HCBE Faculty Articles

Title

Implicit Theories and Issue Characteristics as Determinants of Moral Awareness and Intentions

Document Type

Article

Date

4-2017

Publication Title

Journal of Business Ethics

ISSN or ISBN

0167-4544

Volume

142

Issue

1

First Page

93

Last Page

116

Description

Individuals’ implicit theories that people’s character is fixed (entity theorist) versus malleable (incremental theorist) are associated with their holding beliefs that morality is primarily determined by fulfilling prescribed duties (duty-based morality) versus upholding basic rights of others (rights-based morality), respectively. Three studies provide evidence that the ability to recognize that a situation can legitimately be considered from a moral point of view (moral awareness) is interactively dependent upon the nature of perceivers’ implicit theories (and their associated schemas in the moral domain) and the extent to which the issue involves a violation that emphasizes a failure to fulfill a prescribed duty (duty-based violation) versus a failure to uphold a fundamental right of others (rights-based violation). The studies experimentally manipulated the characteristics of a hypothetical business situation to involve either a duty-based violation or a rights-based violation or no behavioral violation. In addition, Study 1 experimentally manipulated subjects’ implicit theories, while Studies 2 and 3 measured subjects’ chronically held implicit theories. Collectively, the studies provide consistent evidence that entity theorists have greater moral awareness than incremental theorists when considering situations involving duty-based violations, while incremental theorists have greater moral awareness than entity theorists when considering situations involving rights-based violations, and moral awareness is not significantly different for perceivers who are neither strongly entity nor incremental theorists, when considering situations involving duty- versus rights-based violations. Study 3 also found evidence of a moderated-mediated association between violation type and moral intentions, through moral awareness as a mediator, moderated by perceivers’ implicit theories.

DOI

10.1007/s10551-015-2714-1

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