Title page for ETD etd-05172000-19000040

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author McMahon, Joan
Author's Email Address jmcmahon@vt.edu
URN etd-05172000-19000040
Title The Effects of Cognitive Moral Development and Reinforcement Contingencies on Ethical Decision Making
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Foti, Roseanne J. Committee Chair
Harvey, Robert J. Committee Member
Hauenstein, Neil M. A. Committee Member
  • ethical decision making
  • reinforcement contingencies
  • CMD
Date of Defense 2000-04-28
Availability unrestricted
A number of theories attempt to explain the elements of the decision making process when one is faced with an ethical dilemma. Trevino's model (1986)posited a main effect of cognitive moral development (CMD) on ethical behavior, moderated by reinforcement contingencies. Past research has failed to examine the full spectrum of reinforcement contingencies: rewarding ethical behavior (RE), punishing unethical behavior (PU), rewarding unethical behavior (RU), and punishing ethical behavior (PE). It was hypothesized that RE and PU would encourage ethical behavior, while RU and PE would encourage unethical behavior. An additional hypothesis that has not been examined is that reinforcement contingencies would cause individuals who are at the conventional level of CMD to regress to earlier stages of moral reasoning. Support for these hypotheses was not found. Possible explanations for the results are discussed, including the nature of the task itself.
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