Dimensions of Moral Intensity and Ethical Decision Making: An Empirical Study


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Tim Barnett, Department of Management and Marketing, College of Administration and Business, Louisiana Tech University, P. O. Box 10318, Ruston, LA 71271.


Moral intensity is a construct that relates to issues in terms of their perceived moral significance. Individuals' perceptions of moral intensity should impact their recognition of issues as posing moral dilemmas and should also affect ethical judgments and behavioral intentions regarding issues. This study examined the relationship between 4 dimensions of moral intensity and the ethical decision-making process. Two work-related actions were presented to respondents, who then completed measures of the 4 dimensions of moral intensity, whether the actions posed an ethical issue, ethical judgments regarding the actions, and the likelihood that they would engage in the actions. Results indicate that moral intensity dimensions were associated with individuals' ethical decisions. Social consensus and seriousness of consequences were particularly important influences on the ethical decision-making process.