The routes of moral development and the impact of exposure to the Milgram obedience study

Journal of Business Ethics 75 (4):315 - 333 (2007)
This article examines how business students route themselves through the process of cognitive moral development (CMD) to arrive at a more autonomous level of CMD when there is an impetus to do so. In this study, two groups were given Rest’s Defining Issues Test; half the test 1 week and half three weeks later. In between, one group viewed a film of Milgram’s obedience study as a stimulus towards a more autonomous level of CMD. The results of the analysis indicate that viewing the Milgram study produced a positive response regarding subjects’ level of autonomous CMD. However, the response was not uniform across the subject pool. Females showed a greater consistent significant positive response to viewing Milgram while male subjects varied their response contingent upon their functional area of study. While subjects’ functional area of study alone made little difference in the results, when taken in conjunction with gender, significant differences were found between groups. Thus, researchers should take care when investigating differences between subjects’ area of study since gender differences may be present even within an apparently homogenous population-like business students.
Keywords cognitive moral development  DIT  Kohlberg  Milgram  obedience  Rest
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