Get access

The Asceticism Dimension of the Protestant Work Ethic: Shedding Its Status of Invisibility


Peter E. Mudrack, Department of Management, 101 Calvin Hall, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506. E-mail:


Asceticism seems an “invisible” Protestant work ethic (PWE) dimension that has largely been ignored in research. This study, building directly on existing knowledge, investigated the possibility that deference to authority was central to asceticism and the possible ethical implications of this. In 3 samples of employed persons, results demonstrated that highly ascetic individuals were highly authoritarian, were low in advanced moral reasoning, and regarded ethically questionable activities benefiting organizations (but not individuals) as relatively acceptable. However, “hard workers,” another PWE dimension, regarded all ethically questionable activities as inappropriate, regardless of the beneficiary, and were less clearly authoritarian. Significant relationships involving the PWE may sometimes be undetectable when combining distinct dimensions, and asceticism merits attention as a distinct PWE component.