Thesis Literature Review (Ch.4): MEASURING MORALE AND ETHICS

2011/03/17 § 8 Comments


Introduction: Ethics and morale in a Business context and the effect of honor codes






Controlling for gender and culture factors
A study investigating ethics education with students found that there was a small but strongly significant positive effect for the participating males in reaction to the education, but no discernable effect at all for the females (Nguyen, Basuray et al. 2008). Several studies repeatedly demonstrated that female students’ ratings of ethical judgment were consistently higher than that of male students (McCabe, Ingram et al. 2006). In addition, it has been demonstrated that males experienced their work-environment as more ethical than did females (McDaniel, Shoeps et al. 2001).

Some argue that there is not general difference in ethical attitudes between men and women (Gibson 2005), while others argue that the differences are restricted to few aspects. One example being that men describe bribery as less problematic than women (McCabe, Ingram et al. 2006). The underlying reasons may well be of genetic and social origin, but dependable data is apparently not available yet, which is the more dominant factor, if any.

Similarly, investigating ethical values one must take into consideration that cultural differences influence the effects of such measures (Palazzo 2002; Helin and Sandström 2008). Significant differences were found, for both individual managers by nationality, and for companies by nationality of parents, in the area of ‘organizational loyalty’. Also the attitude towards accepting gifts and favours in exchange for preferential treatment was found to show significant differences between national groups (Jackson and Artola 1997).

Methods, tests, and scales measuring ethical values
An often employed method for studying business ethics are questionnaires such as the Defining Issues Test (DIT)(Rest 1979), the Moral Judgement Test (MJT)(Lind 1978), the Ethics Position Questionnaire (EPQ)(Forsyth 1980), the test of Machiavellianism (MACH IV) (Christie 1970), Mechanisms of moral disengagement (Bandura, Barbaranelli et al. 1996), and the Multidimensional Ethics Scale (MES)(Reidenbach 1990).

There are many additions to existing test and novel test are being developed frequently, such as the Moral Reasoning Inventory test (Weber and McGivern 2010). Adaptations are made for instance to adapt test to specific cultural circumstances (Akabayashi, Slingsby et al. 2004), or address specific research requirements (Sims 1999; Ng, White et al. 2009). The questionnaires usually apply a Likert scale, i.e. a rating scale, to measure agreement with certain propositions or statements (Likert 1932).

MDS: Moral Disengagement Scale
As mentioned above, the attributes measured by the moral disengagement scale are moral justification, euphemistic labelling, advantageous comparison, displacement of responsibility, diffusion of responsibility, disregard of distortion of consequences, dehumanisation, and attribution of blame (Bandura 2002). These are the factors that Bandura describes as the self-regulatory mechanisms governing moral disengagement (Pelton, Gound et al. 2004).

DIT: Defining Issues Test
Measure cognitive moral development, and is often employed to measure the effect of ethical education programs (Shawver and Sennetti 2009). The test uses a Likert-type scale to give quantitative rankings to five moral dilemmas. The addresses three schemas of moral reasoning: the Personal Interests Schema, the Maintaining Norms Schema and the Post-conventional Schema (Rest 1979). In 1999 the test was revised under the acronym DIT-2, which intends to improve brevity, clarity and validity criteria (Rest, Narvaez et al. 1999).

An example question for a DIT-2 is:
“If you were the Credit Manager and the start-up company’s owner was a friend of yours, would you recommend extending your friend the loan?” (Richmond Pope 2005).

MJT: Moral Judgement Test
The MJT measures two aspects of judgment behaviour, a) moral judgment competence as defined by Kohlberg , and b) moral orientations or moral preferences as defined by Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Orientation (Kohlberg 1975). The participant is asked whether s/he would accept or reject a series of arguments presented.

The MJT is different from most other instrument for the measurement of moral psychology because it is a test moral competence, while for instance the DIT tests attitudes (Ishida 2006). The MJT presents six statements (corresponding to the stages of moral orientation) for two ethical dilemmas and a suggested pro- versus con position to the action taken in the dilemma (Ishida 2006).

EPQ: Ethics Position Questionnaire
The Ethics Position Questionnaire measures ethical ideology using 20 items and a nine-point response scale (Forsyth 1980). The scale has been critically investigated but maintains its position in the validation of ethical research (Davis, Andersen et al. 2001).

An example of the items is: “There are no ethical principles that are so important
that they should be a part of any code of ethics” (Forsyth 1980).

MACH IV: Machiavellianism
Machiavellianism is a term in psychology to describe a person’s tendency to deceive and manipulate other people for their personal gain (Christie 1970). It has been demonstrated that Machiavellian attitudes are “the strongest predictor of unethical intent” (Danielle, Buckley et al. 2003).

The MACH IV measures Machiavellian attitudes using 20 statements that participants rate on a seven-point scale (see Appendix)(Richmond Pope 2005). Examples for the test can be found online (Christie 1970).

People scoring above 60 out of 100 on the MACH-IV tend to endorse statements such as, “Never tell anyone the real reason you did something unless it is useful to do so,” (No. 1 in the test). People scoring below 60 out of 100 on the MACH-IV are considered to agree with statements such as “There is no excuse for lying to someone else” (Richmond Pope 2005).

MES: The Multidimensional Ethics Scale
The Multidimensional Ethics Scale is an eight-item, three-subscale measure developed by Reidenbach and Robin and subsequently applied in several empirical studies of business ethics (Shawver and Sennetti 2009). It has been criticised for failing replication of results but also been defended by others (Hyman 1996; Loo 2004; McMahon 2005). As in for most suggested scales, subsequently suggestions for improvement have been made (Reidenbach and Robin 1993).

The MES measures constructs relevant to ethical decisions such as:
1. Deontology: One’s duty to follow ethical rules
2. Utilitarianism: Acting in a manner that will provide the greatest good for many
3. Relativism: The notion that no universal ethical rules exist
4. Egoism: Promoting an individual’s long-term self-interests
5. Justice: Based on the Aristotelian notion that equals should be treated equally

The test measures these values using vignettes such as for example:
“A company has just introduced a highly successful new kitchen appliance. The sales manager, who is paid partly on a commission basis, discovers that there has been insufficient product testing to meet government guidelines. The tests so far indicate no likelihood of any safety problem. Action: the sales manager continues to promote the product.” The test-subjects are then asked to rate the scenario on a scale.

Previous chapter: Thesis Literature Review (Ch. 3): TOOLS AND POLICIES REDUCING IMMORAL BEHAVIOUR


Akabayashi, A., B. Slingsby, et al. (2004). “The development of a brief and objective method for evaluating moral sensitivity and reasoning in medical students.” BMC Medical Ethics 5(1): 1.
Bandura, A. (2002). “Selective Moral Disengagement in the Exercise of Moral Agency.” Journal of Moral Education 31(2): 101-119.
Bandura, A., C. Barbaranelli, et al. (1996). “Mechanisms of moral disengagement in the exercise of moral agency.” Journal of personality and social psychology 71(2): 364.
Christie, C. (1970). “The Mach IV Scale.” Retrieved February 20, 2011, from
Christie, R. (1970). Scale Construction in Studies in Machiavellianism. NY, New York.
Danielle, S. B., M. R. Buckley, et al. (2003). “Ethical decision-making: a multidimensional construct.” Business Ethics: A European Review 12(1): 88-107.
Davis, M. A., M. G. Andersen, et al. (2001). “Measuring Ethical Ideology in Business Ethics: A Critical Analysis of the Ethics Position Questionnaire.” Journal of Business Ethics 32(1): 35-53.
Forsyth, D. R. (1980). “The EPQ.” Retrieved February 20, 2011, from
Forsyth, D. R. (1980). “A Taxonomy of Ethical Ideologies.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 39(1): 175-184.
Gibson, M. A. (2005). “Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People. By Joan Roughgarden. Pp. 474. (University of California Press, Berkeley, 2004.) ¬£18.95, ISBN 0-520-24073-1, hardback.” Journal of Biosocial Science 37(2): 255-256.
Helin, S. and J. Sandström (2008). “Codes, Ethics and Cross-Cultural Differences: Stories from the Implementation of a Corporate Code of Ethics in a MNC Subsidiary.” Journal of Business Ethics 82(2): 281-291.
Hyman, M. R. (1996). “A Critique and Revision of the Multidimensional Ethics Scale.” Journal of Empirical Generalisations in Marketing Science 1: 1-35.
Ishida, C. (2006). “How do Scores of DIT and MJT Differ? A Critical Assessment of the Use of Alternative Moral Development Scales in Studies of Business Ethics.” Journal of Business Ethics 67(1): 63-74.
Jackson, T. and M. C. Artola (1997). “Ethical Beliefs and Management Behaviour: A Cross-Cultural Comparison.” Journal of Business Ethics 16(11): 1163-1173.
Kohlberg, L. (1975). “The Cognitive–Developmental Approach to Moral Education.” Phi Delta Kappan 56(10): 670-677.
Likert, R. (1932). “A Technique for the Measurement of Attitudes.” Archives of Psychology 140: 1-55.
Lind, G. (1978). Wie misst man moralisches Urteil? Probleme und alternative Möglichkeiten der Messung eines komplexen Konstrukts. [How does one measure moral judgment? Problems and alternative possibilities of measuring a complex construct]. Weinheim, Beltz.
Loo, R. (2004). “Support for Reidenbach and Robin’s (1990) eight-item multidimensional ethics scale.” The Social Science Journal 41(2): 289-294.
McCabe, A. C., R. Ingram, et al. (2006). “`The Business of Ethics and Gender’.” Journal of Business Ethics 64(2): 101-116.
McDaniel, C., N. Shoeps, et al. (2001). “Organizational Ethics: Perceptions of Employees by Gender.” Journal of Business Ethics 33(3): 245-256.
McMahon, J. M., & Harvey, R. J. (2005). Psychometric properties of the ReidenbachRobin (1990) Multidimensional Ethics Scale (MES). Paper presented at the Annual Conference
of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Los Angeles.
Ng, J., G. P. White, et al. (2009). “Design and Validation of a Novel New Instrument for Measuring the Effect of Moral Intensity on Accountants’ Propensity to Manage Earnings.” Journal of Business Ethics 84(3): 367-387.
Nguyen, N. T., M. T. Basuray, et al. (2008). “Moral Issues and Gender Differences in Ethical Judgment using Reidenbach and Robin’s (1990) Multidimensional Ethics Scale: Implications in Teaching of Business Ethics.” Journal of Business Ethics 77(4): 417-430.
Palazzo, B. (2002). “U.S.-American and German Business Ethics: An Intercultural Comparison.” Journal of Business Ethics 41(3): 195-216.
Pelton, J., M. Gound, et al. (2004). “The Moral Disengagement Scale: Extension with an American Minority Sample.” Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 26(1): 31-39.
Reidenbach, R. E., & Robin, D.P. (1990). “Toward the development of a multidimensional scale for improving evaluations of business ethics.” Journal of Business Ethics, 9: 639-653.
Reidenbach, R. E. and D. P. Robin (1993). “A comment on ‘a multidimensional scale for measuring business ethics: A purification and refinement’.” Journal of Business Ethics 12(8).
Rest, J. R. (1979). Development in judging moral issues. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.
Rest, J. R., D. Narvaez, et al. (1999). “DIT2: Devising and Testing a Revised Instrument of Moral Judgment.” Journal of Educational Psychology 91(4): 644-659.
Richmond Pope, K. (2005). “Measuring the Ethical Propensities of Accounting Students: Mach IV versus DIT.” Journal of Academic Ethics 3(2): 89-111.
Shawver, T. J. and J. T. Sennetti (2009). “Measuring Ethical Sensitivity and Evaluation.” Journal of Business Ethics 88(4): 663-678.
Sims, R. L. (1999). “The development of six ethical business dilemmas.” Leadership & Organization Development Journal 20(4): 189-197.
Weber, J. and E. McGivern (2010). “A New Methodological Approach for Studying Moral Reasoning Among Managers in Business Settings.” Journal of Business Ethics 92(1): 149-166.

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§ 8 Responses to Thesis Literature Review (Ch.4): MEASURING MORALE AND ETHICS

  • […] « Thesis Literature Review (Ch.4): MEASURING MORALE AND ETHICS […]

  • Sir, I found your research article while searching about moral disengagement and its measurement. I have came across Mechanisms for moral disengagement scale by A Bandura, but unable to track from where to purchased this test. I will grateful to you if you help me in this respect.

    • davidkramer says:

      Dear Amruta,

      Thank you for your message. I am afraid I do not have access to this info right now. I found more info in publications that I accessed at university. I would suggest that you check the literature info in my thesis: Please find it here:

      You should be able to get an idea how to retrieve it from this. Good luck to you for your studies!
      Kind regards,

      • Mr. DAvid,

        Thank you so much for your reply.

        The thesis document you sent to me was really helpful. I just wish to know weather this test is published by some publisher or not. I wish to undertake one research on Moral Disengagement in Early Adolescents and need to send a proposal for it. So need this information to be included in that, and afterwards wish to purchased this test. I will be happy if you will be able to guide me further in this respect.

        Thank you again.



      • davidkramer says:

        Dear Amruta,

        I am very sorry, I would not know where to buy the test, but instead you may want to buy the papers below, if you cannot access them through your library. The way I approached it was simply with the following papers that contain all the questions that the moral disengagement test applies:

        Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall.
        Bandura, A. (2002). “Selective Moral Disengagement in the Exercise of Moral Agency.” Journal of Moral Education 31(2): 101-119.
        Bandura, A., C. Barbaranelli, et al. (1996). “Mechanisms of moral disengagement in the exercise of moral agency.” Journal of personality and social psychology 71(2): 364.
        Bandura, A., G. V. Caprara, et al. (2001). “Sociocognitive self-regulatory mechanisms governing transgressive behavior.” Journal of personality and social psychology 80(1): 125.

        I suggest you attempt to get hold of these (especially the one from 1996), have a look at the methods section and take if from there, as there will certainly be many more citations that will guide you in applying this test.

        Best of luck!

        Kind regards,

  • Dear David,

    Thanks for your help, I have located the questions and method part, I will further discuss with my guide, and then decide to go ahead. I must Thank you for your timely help. Thanks a lot!


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