Observers' impressions of unethical persons and whistleblowers

Journal of Business Ethics 76 (3):309 - 318 (2007)
Since there have been many recent occurrences of alleged wrongdoing by business persons and other professionals, it seems additional ethics research is needed to obtain knowledge that will impact real-world behavior. An empirical study assessed business students’ impressions of hypothetical wrongdoers and whistleblowers. To some extent, impressions of an unethical executive and a whistleblower were influenced by the same variables and in opposite directions. Female respondents judged the unethical executive less favorably and the whistleblower more favorably than did males. The executive was rated less favorably and the whistleblower more favorably when the executive sought a small gain than when the goal was a large gain or prevention of a loss of either magnitude. Some manipulations, however, impacted impressions of one actor, but not the other. Perhaps ethics training can make students aware that issue␣framing and moral intensity components may bias decisions.
Keywords attributions  decision-making bias  ethical judgments  moral intensity  whistle-blowing
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