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Why People Make The Wrong Choices – The Psychology Of Ethical Failure

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the psychological dimensions of ethical decision making. It presents a theoretical discussion of the cognitive and motivational processes that decision makers employ when they take ethical and unethical actions. The chapter describes research from the field of person-environment psychology that shows how unethical behaviour is caused by personal dispositions such as moral-reasoning capacity and empathy, as well as situational factors like organizational culture and ideological influences. It also examines several psychological processes that can interfere with the effective functioning of the cognitive and motivational mechanisms. The chapter concludes with the argument that reducing ethical failure cannot be achieved by addressing only the shortcomings of individuals; environmental influences also play large part and leaders have a significant role to play in this area by fostering unit climates that encourage subordinates to make ethical choices.

Keywords: decision makers; ethical decision making; ethical failure; person-environment psychology



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