The Capacity for Ethical Decisions: The Relationship Between Working Memory and Ethical Decision Making

Science and Engineering Ethics 21 (2):271-292 (2015)
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Abstract

Although various models of ethical decision making have implicitly called upon constructs governed by working memory capacity , a study examining this relationship specifically has not been conducted. Using a sense making framework of EDM, we examined the relationship between WMC and various sensemaking processes contributing to EDM. Participants completed an online assessment comprised of a demographic survey, intelligence test, various EDM measures, and the Automated Operation Span task to determine WMC. Results indicated that WMC accounted for unique variance above and beyond ethics education, exposure to ethical issues, and intelligence in several sensemaking processes. Additionally, a marginally significant effect of WMC was also found with reference to EDM. Individual differences in WMC appear likely to play an important role in the ethical decision-making process, and future researchers may wish to consider their potential influences

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