Measuring Sensitivity to Conflicts of Interest: A Preliminary Test of Method

Science and Engineering Ethics 19 (1):43-62 (2013)
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This study presents and develops test methods for assessing sensitivity to conflict of interest (COIsen). We are aware of no study assessing COIsen, but note that some popular methods for assessing ethical sensitivity and related constructs (which include COIsen) are flawed in that their presentation of stimulus material to subjects actually guides subjects to attend to ethical (or related) issues. The method tested here was designed to avoid this flaw. Using adaptations of two existing cases, a quota sample of 12 students was interviewed. Our method used funnel-sequenced, open-ended interviews that were audiotaped and transcribed, then subjected to a form of cognitive mapping. These maps revealed the presence of “indicators” of COIsen. We found that COIsen can be measured and that the global COIsen score generated by our method is able to reveal much variation across subjects, making it a worthwhile candidate for further consideration



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