Moral Character Measures
The initial survey in Study 1 included 20 variables potentially-relevant to moral character; Study 2 included these 20 plus two additional variables (Self-Control and Machiavellianism). We selected variables for this research by surveying the social/personality and industrial/organizational psychology literatures for scales that theoretically or empirically relate to morality or unethical behavior. Assessing a wide array of individual differences allows us to integrate a variety of research streams on morality and personality that heretofore have been studied in isolation.
Both the order of the questionnaires and the order of the items within each questionnaire were randomized for each participant. Tables with descriptive statistics and correlations among these measures is presented on the WECT Project Tables page of this website.
HEXACO-60 Personality Inventory
The HEXACO-60 Personality Inventory assesses the six major dimensions of personality: (H) Honesty-Humility, (E) Emotionality, (X) Extraversion, (A) Agreeableness, (C) Conscientiousness, and (O) Openness to Experience (Ashton & Lee, 2007, 2009). Each of these factors is considered a broad personality dimension with four underlying facets. The four facets underlying Honesty-Humility are fairness, sincerity, modesty, and greed-avoidance. The four facets underlying Emotionality are fearfulness, anxiety, dependence, and sentimentality. The four facets underlying Extraversion are expressiveness, social boldness, sociability, and liveliness. The four facets underlying Agreeableness are forgiveness, gentleness, flexibility, and patience. The four facets underlying Conscientiousness are organization, diligence, perfectionism, and prudence. The four facets underlying Openness to Experience are aesthetic appreciation, inquisitiveness, creativity, and unconventionality.
Honesty-Humility and Conscientiousness are the two personality dimensions with the most prominent links to integrity (Ashton & Lee, 2008; Lee, Ashton, Morrison, Cordery, & Dunlop, 2008; Roberts, Jackson, Fayard, Edmonds, & Meints, 2009; Schmidt & Hunter, 1998). In the workplace, relationships have been found between these constructs and low counterproductive work behavior (CWB) and high organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) across multiple cultures (Bourdage, Lee, Lee, & Shin, 2012; Marcus, Lee, & Ashton, 2007).
In the HEXACO inventory, participants were asked to indicate the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with 60 statements about themselves using a five-point scale anchored by 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree. Each factor was assessed with 10 items. Sample items include: (H) “I wouldn’t use flattery to get a raise or promotion at work, even if I thought it would succeed”; (E) “I sometimes can’t help worrying about little things”; (X) “I prefer jobs that involve active social interaction to those that involve working alone”; (A) “I rarely hold a grudge, even against people who have badly wronged me.” (C) “I often push myself very hard when trying to achieve a goal”; (O) “People have often told me that I have a good imagination.” The 10 items in each scale were averaged after reversing the appropriate items.
Guilt and Shame Proneness Scale
The Guilt and Shame Proneness (GASP) scale measures four constructs: Guilt Proneness; Guilt-Repair Orientation; Shame Proneness; and Shame-Withdrawal Orientation (Cohen, Wolf, Panter, & Insko, 2011). The Guilt-Proneness items ask participants to indicate the likelihood that they would feel bad about their behavior after committing a private transgression. The Guilt-Repair Orientation items ask participants to indicate the likelihood that they would take repair-oriented actions after committing a private transgression. The Shame-Proneness items ask participants to indicate the likelihood that they would feel bad about themselves after committing a public transgression. The Shame Withdrawal-Orientation items ask participants to indicate the likelihood that they would want to withdraw from public after committing a public transgression.
Previous research with the GASP has demonstrated that Guilt Proneness, Guilt-Repair Orientation, and Shame Proneness are negatively correlated with unethical decision-making and behavior, whereas Shame-Withdrawal Orientation is positively correlated with unethical decision-making and delinquency (Cohen, et al., 2011). Guilt Proneness, in particular, has been found to be integral to moral character (Cohen, Panter, & Turan, 2012a), and associated with CWB in cross-sectional designs (Cohen, Panter, & Turan, 2012b).
In the GASP scale, participants were instructed to imagine themselves in a variety of situations that people are likely to encounter in day-to-day life and indicate the likelihood that they would react in the way described (1 = very unlikely, 2 = unlikely, 3 = slightly unlikely, 4 = about 50% likely, 5 = slightly likely, 6 = likely, 7 = very likely). A sample Guilt Proneness item is: “After realizing you have received too much change at a store, you decide to keep it because the salesclerk doesn’t notice. What is the likelihood that you would feel uncomfortable about keeping the money?” A sample Guilt-Repair Orientation item is, “You reveal a friend’s secret, though your friend never finds out. What is the likelihood that your failure to keep the secret would lead you to exert extra effort to keep secrets in the future?” A sample Shame Proneness item is, “You successfully exaggerate your damages in a lawsuit. Months later, your lies are discovered and you are charged with perjury. What is the likelihood that you would think you are a despicable human being?” A sample Shame-Withdrawal Orientation item is, “After making a big mistake on an important project at work in which people were depending on you, your boss criticizes you in front of your coworkers. What is the likelihood that you would feign sickness and leave work?” The four items in each scale were summed.
Interpersonal Reactivity Index
The Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) includes a seven-item Empathic Concern scale and a seven-item Perspective Taking scale (Davis, 1983). The Empathic Concern scale measures the tendency to experience feelings of warmth, compassion, and concern for other people. The Perspective Taking scale measures the tendency to adopt the point of view of other people. Empathic Concern and Perspective Taking are both aspects of the construct “empathy,” with the former reflecting the more affective component and the latter reflecting the more cognitive component (Davis, 1983). The positive relationship between empathy and prosocial behavior is well-established, as is the negative relationship between empathy and anti-social behavior (Eisenberg, 2000; Eisenberg & Miller, 1987; Miller & Eisenberg, 1988; Stephan & Finlay, 1999). People who are empathic and take others’ perspectives are generally more willing to help others and less willing to harm them.
In the IRI, participants were asked to indicate how well each item described them using a five-point scale anchored by 1 = does not describe me well and 5 = describes me very well. A sample Empathic Concern item is, “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me.” A sample Perspective Taking item is, “I try to look at everybody’s side of a disagreement before I make a decision.” The seven items in each scale were averaged.
Self-Importance of Moral Identity Scale
The Self-Importance of Moral Identity scale measures Moral Identity-Internalization and Moral Identity-Symbolization (Aquino & Reed, 2002). The Internalization dimension captures the extent to which morality is important to an individual’s private sense of self (i.e., how much does the person value being a person with integrity?) The Symbolization dimension is more public; this subscale captures the extent to which individuals want others to see that they are moral. Both moral identity subscales have been found to predict moral behavior across multiple domains, with the Internalization component generally having stronger effects (Aquino & Reed, 2002; Reed & Aquino, 2003)
In the Self-Importance of Moral Identity scale, participants were presented with a list of moral adjectives and asked to imagine how a person with these characteristics would think, feel, and act. The adjectives were: caring, compassionate, fair, friendly, generous, helpful, hardworking, honest, and kind. They were then asked to indicate the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with five statements about internalization and five questions about symbolization using a five-point scale anchored by 1 = strongly disagree and 7 = strongly agree. A sample Moral Identity-Internalization item is, “Being someone who has these characteristics is an important part of who I am.” A sample Moral Identity-Symbolization item is, “The types of things I do in my spare time (e.g., hobbies) clearly identify me as having these characteristics.” The five items in each scale were averaged after reversing the appropriate items.
Defining Issues Test–Short Form
The Defining Issues Test (DIT) measures Cognitive Moral Development (Rest, 1986). It is based on Kohlberg’s theory of moral judgment (Kohlberg, 1969). According to the theory, there are six stages of moral development, and people in later stages are more adept at reasoning about difficult moral dilemmas than those in earlier stages. Those in advanced stages think about moral dilemmas in a sophisticated way, considering justice and societal concerns rather than obedience and punishment concerns. A meta-analysis looking at how individual differences relate to unethical choices at work found that cognitive moral development was associated with decreased unethical behavior in the workplace (Kish-Gephart, Harrison, & Treviño, 2010).
We used the short form of the DIT in this research, which includes three moral dilemmas and takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. Unlike the other measures in the project, the DIT is proprietary, and had to be purchased from and scored by The Center for the Study of Ethical Development (http://www.ethicaldevelopment.ua.edu/publications-and-papers). As recommended by the Center and the DIT scoring guide, we used the N2 score in our analyses.
Participants were asked questions about three moral dilemmas, the most classic of which is the “Heinz and the Drug” dilemma. The paragraph-long story describes a European man, Heinz, who is considering stealing an unaffordable cancer drug from a druggist in his town to save his dying wife. Participants are asked what Heinz should do, and then rate and rank 12 issues relevant to the dilemma in terms of their importance. For example, one issue is “Would stealing in such a case bring about more total good for the whole society or not.” Another is, “Whether a community’s laws are going to be upheld.”
Ethics Position Questionnaire
The Ethics Position Questionnaire (EPQ) measures Moral Idealism and Moral Relativism philosophies (Forsyth, 1980). These two moral ideologies differ according to the value placed on universal moral principles and concern for the welfare of others. Idealists are concerned about behaving fairly and justly towards others, and they believe that an action should never be taken if it may cause harm to another. Relativism is defined by a belief in situationally-based ethics. Unlike idealists, relativists reject the notion of universal moral principles and instead base their moral judgments on their feelings about the situation at hand. A meta-analysis found that unethical intentions in the workplace were negatively related to Moral Idealism and positively related to Moral Relativism (Kish-Gephart, et al., 2010).
In the Ethics Position Questionnaire, participants were asked to indicate the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with 10 idealism statements and 10 relativism statements using a seven-point scale anchored by 1 = strongly disagree and 7 = strongly agree. A sample Moral Idealism item is, “One should never psychologically or physically harm another person.” A sample Moral Relativism item is, “What is ethical varies from one situation and society to another.” The 10 items in each scale were averaged.
Consideration of Future Consequences Scale
The Consideration of Future Consequences (CFC) scale measures the extent to which individuals think about the long-term consequences of their behavior and modify their future behavior accordingly (Strathman, Gleicher, Boninger, & Edwards, 1994). Individuals high in CFC are willing to sacrifice immediate gratification and happiness in order to achieve future outcomes, whereas those low in CFC focus on immediate outcomes and convenience. Thus, it is similar in many ways to Conscientiousness and Self-Control. Accordingly, Consideration of Future Consequences has been linked to greater disapproval of unethical negotiation strategies and increased altruistic behavior (Hershfield, Cohen, & Thompson, 2012; J. Joireman, Kamdar, Daniels, & Duell, 2006; Jeffrey Joireman, Lasane, Bennett, Richards, & Solaimani, 2001; Jeff Joireman, Strathman, & Balliet, 2006).
In the Consideration of Future Consequences scale, participants were asked to indicate how characteristic each of 12 statements was of them using a five-point scale anchored by 1 = extremely uncharacteristic and 5 = extremely characteristic. A sample item is, “I consider how things might be in the future, and try to influence those things with my day to day behavior.” The 12 scale items were averaged after reversing the appropriate items.
Future Self-Continuity Scale
The single-item Future Self-Continuity scale measures the extent to which one feels connected to one’s self in 10 years (Ersner-Hershfield, Garton, Ballard, Samanez-Larkin, & Knutson, 2009). A person who is high in future self-continuity believes his or her future self will be fundamentally the same as his or her current self, whereas a person who is low in future self-continuity believes his or her future self will be fundamentally different than his or her current self. Future Self-Continuity has been found to be associated with reductions in lying, cheating, and endorsement of unethical negotiation tactics, but it has been suggested that these effects could be accounted for by corresponding individual differences in Consideration of Future Consequences (Hershfield, et al., 2012).
In the Future Self-Continuity measure, participants were shown seven pairs of circles and were instructed to “Click on the picture that best describes how similar you feel to your future self (in 10 years), in terms of personality, temperament, major likes and dislikes, beliefs, values, ambitions, life goals, ideals, etc.” The first pair of circles did not overlap (representing low future-self-continuity), whereas the seventh pair overlapped almost completely (representing high future self-continuity).
Exploitiveness-Entitlement Items from the Narcissism Personality Inventory
Exploitiveness-Entitlement (E/E) is the maladaptive component of narcissism (Ames, Rose, & Anderson, 2006; White, 2011, July). People who are high in E/E find it easy to manipulate others and insist on getting respect. Narcissism, like Machiavellianism and Psychopathy, is a member of the “Dark Triad” of personality (Paulhus & Williams, 2002). Prior research has demonstrated that E/E, but not other dimensions of Narcissism, harms trust and relationships with negotiation counterparts (White, 2011, July). As such (and due to time constraints), we only included the five E/E items in our study rather than a full Narcissism scale.
Participants were presented with five pairs of statements, and instructed to choose the statement in each pair that comes closest to describing their feelings and beliefs about themselves. One sentence in each pair was indicative of E/E. For example, one pair included the statements, “I am more capable than other people,” and “There is a lot that I can learn from other people.” The former statement reflects E/E. We computed the proportion of E/E statements out of five that the participants chose. The internal consistency of the E/E items was found to be relatively low (Table S1), possibly due to the measure only having five items.
Brief Self-Control Measure
Self-Control reflects an ability to override desires and work effectively toward long-term goals (Tangney, Baumeister, & Boone, 2004). People who are high in Self-Control are disciplined and refrain from doing things that are bad for them. A number of studies have demonstrated a relationship between low Self-Control and increased unethical behavior (Gino, Schweitzer, Mead, & Ariely, 2011; Mead, Baumeister, Gino, Schweitzer, & Ariely, 2009).
Participants were presented with 12 statements and asked to indicate how well each statement described them using a five-point scale anchored by 1 = not at all and 5 = very much. A sample item is, “I am good at resisting temptation.” The 12 items in the scale were averaged after reversing the appropriate items. This scale was not included in Study 1.
Machiavellianism IV Scale
The Machiavellianism (MACH) IV Scale measures the extent to which a person is manipulative and dishonest (Christie & Geis, 1970). Individuals who are high in in Machiavellianism believe in telling people what they want to hear, and that it is better to be important and dishonest rather than humble and honest. Individuals who are low in Machiavellianism value honesty and believe that people get ahead in the world by leading moral lives. Machiavellianism is associated with unethical decision-making and behavior across a variety of contexts (Hegarty & Sims, 1978; Jones & Paulhus, 2009; Kish-Gephart, et al., 2010), which is why it is considered a member of the “Dark Triad” or personality, along with Psychopathy and Narcissism (Paulhus & Williams, 2002).
Participants were asked to indicate the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with 20 statements about themselves using a five-point scale anchored by 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree. A sample item is, “Never tell anyone the real reason you did something unless it is useful to do so.” The 20 items in the scale were averaged after reversing the appropriate items. This scale was not included in Study 1.
Ames, D. R., Rose, P., & Anderson, C. P. (2006). The NPI-16 as a short measure of narcissism. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 440-450.
Aquino, K., & Reed, A. I. I. (2002). The self-importance of moral identity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(6), 1423-1440.
Ashton, M. C., & Lee, K. (2007). Empirical, theoretical, and practical advantages of the HEXACO model of personality structure. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 11(2), 150-166. doi: 10.1177/1088868306294907
Ashton, M. C., & Lee, K. (2008). The HEXACO model of personality structure and the importance of the H Factor. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2, 1952-1962. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2008.00134.x
Ashton, M. C., & Lee, K. (2009). The HEXACO-60: A short measure of the major dimensions of personality. Journal of Personality Assessment, 91(4), 340-345. doi: 10.1080/00223890902935878
Bourdage, J. S., Lee, K., Lee, J.-H., & Shin, K.-H. (2012). Motives for organizational citizenship behavior: Personality correlates and coworker ratings of OCB. Human Performance, 25(3), 179-200. doi: 10.1080/08959285.2012.683904
Christie, R., & Geis, F. L. (1970). Studies in Machiavellianism. New York: Academic Press.
Cohen, T. R., Panter, A. T., & Turan, N. (2012a). Guilt proneness and moral character. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(5), 355-359. doi: 10.1177/0963721412454874
Cohen, T. R., Panter, A. T., & Turan, N. (2012b). Predicting counterproductive work behavior from guilt proneness. Journal of Business Ethics. doi: 10.1007/s10551-012-1326-2
Cohen, T. R., Wolf, S. T., Panter, A. T., & Insko, C. A. (2011). Introducing the GASP scale: A new measure of guilt and shame proneness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(5), 947-966. doi: 10.1037/a0022641
Davis, M. H. (1983). Measuring individual differences in empathy: Evidence for a multidimensional approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44(1), 113-126.
Eisenberg, N. (2000). Emotion, regulation, and moral development. Annual Review of Psychology, 51, 665-697.
Eisenberg, N., & Miller, P. A. (1987). The relation of empathy to prosocial and related behaviors. Psychological Bulletin, 101(1), 91-119.
Ersner-Hershfield, H., Garton, M. T., Ballard, K., Samanez-Larkin, G. R., & Knutson, B. (2009). Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow: Individual differences in future self-continuity account for saving. Judgment and Decision Making, 4, 280-286.
Forsyth, D. R. (1980). A taxonomy of ethical ideologies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 175-184.
Gino, F., Schweitzer, M. E., Mead, N. L., & Ariely, D. (2011). Unable to resist temptation: How self-control depletion promotes unethical behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 115(2), 191-203. doi: 16/j.obhdp.2011.03.001
Hegarty, W. H., & Sims, H. P. (1978). Some determinants of unethical decision behavior: An experiment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 63(4), 451-457. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.63.4.451
Hershfield, H. E., Cohen, T. R., & Thompson, L. (2012). Short horizons and tempting situations: Lack of continuity to our future selves leads to unethical decision making and behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 117, 298-310. doi: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2011.11.002
Joireman, J., Kamdar, D., Daniels, D., & Duell, B. (2006). Good citizens to the end? It depends: Empathy and concern with future consequences moderate the impact of a short-term time horizon on organizational citizenship behaviors. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(6), 1307-1320.
Joireman, J., Lasane, T. P., Bennett, J., Richards, D., & Solaimani, S. (2001). Integrating social value orientation and the consideration of future consequences within the extended norm activation model of proenvironmental behaviour. British Journal of Social Psychology, 40(1), 133-155. doi: 10.1348/014466601164731
Joireman, J., Strathman, A., & Balliet, D. (2006). Considering future consequences: An integrative model. In L. J. Sanna & E. C. Chang (Eds.), Judgments over time: The interplay of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. (pp. 82-99).
Jones, D. N., & Paulhus, D. L. (2009). Machiavellianism. In M. R. Leary & R. H. Hoyle (Eds.), Handbook of Individual Differences in Social Behavior (pp. 93-108). New York: Guilford Press.
Kish-Gephart, J. J., Harrison, D. A., & Treviño, L. K. (2010). Bad apples, bad cases, and bad barrels: Meta-analytic evidence about sources of unethical decisions at work. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(1), 1-31. doi: 10.1037/a0017103
Kohlberg, L. (1969). Stage and sequence: The cognitive-developmental approach to socialization. In D. A. Goslin (Ed.), Handbook of socialization theory and research. Chicago: Rand McNally.
Lee, K., Ashton, M. C., Morrison, D. L., Cordery, J., & Dunlop, P. D. (2008). Predicting integrity with the HEXACO personality model: Use of self- and observer reports. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 81, 147-167. doi: 10.1348/096317907X195175
Marcus, B., Lee, K., & Ashton, M. C. (2007). Personality dimensions explaining relationships between integrity tests and counterproductive behavior: Big five, or one in addition? Personnel Psychology, 60(1), 1-34.
Mead, N. L., Baumeister, R. F., Gino, F., Schweitzer, M. E., & Ariely, D. (2009). Too tired to tell the truth: Self-control resource depletion and dishonesty. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45(3), 594-597. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2009.02.004
Miller, P. A., & Eisenberg, N. (1988). The relation of empathy to aggressive and externalizing/antisocial behavior. Psychological Bulletin, 103(3), 324-344.
Paulhus, D. L., & Williams, K. M. (2002). The Dark Triad of personality: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Journal of Research in Personality, 36(6), 556-563. doi: 10.1016/s0092-6566(02)00505-6
Reed, A., & Aquino, K. F. (2003). Moral identity and the expanding circle of moral regard toward out-groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(6), 1270-1286. doi: 10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2060
Rest, J. R. (1986). Moral development: Advances in research and theory. New York: Praeger.
Roberts, B. W., Jackson, J. J., Fayard, J. V., Edmonds, G., & Meints, J. (2009). Conscientiousness. In M. R. Leary & R. H. Hoyle (Eds.), Handbook of Individual Differences in Social Behavior. New York: Guilford Press.
Schmidt, F. L., & Hunter, J. E. (1998). The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings. Psychological Bulletin, 124(2), 262-274. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.124.2.262
Stephan, W. G., & Finlay, K. (1999). The role of empathy in improving intergroup relations. Journal of Social Issues, 55(4), 729-743.
Strathman, A., Gleicher, F., Boninger, D. S., & Edwards, C. S. (1994). The consideration of future consequences: Weighing immediate and distant outcomes of behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 742-752.
Tangney, J. P., Baumeister, R. F., & Boone, A. L. (2004). High self-control predicts good adjustment, less pathology, better grades, and interpersonal success. Journal of Personality, 72(2), 271-324. doi: 10.1111/j.0022-3506.2004.00263.x
White, J. B., Goldman, B. M. & Ng, I. W .-C. (2011, July). Narcissism and the negotiation relationship: Exploring the dark side. Paper presented at the International Association for Conflict Management, Istanbul, Turkey.