The relationship between moral orientation, gender, and context when reporting honor code violations in business school

Elizabeth Daughaday Axelrod, Marquette University


The purpose of this study was to design a questionnaire to evaluate the association between gender, moral orientation and the reporting of honor code violations in a sample of business students. There is growing agreement of an existence of two orientations in moral development: justice and care. The ethic of care is described as a responsiveness and commitment to caring, connection and attachment between persons in conflict. The ethic of justice is characterized by rationality, abstraction and detachment from the persons in conflict. This study was designed (1) to develop a psychometrically sound instrument to assess the moral orientations of care and justice in a sample of graduate students, (2) to determine if two well-documented moral orientations (i.e. care and justice) exist among a sample of non-undergraduate students, (3) to determine if moral orientation is associated with gender, and (4) to determine if one's moral decision is, or is not, guided by the context in which the moral decision must be made (e.g., involving a close friend or a stranger). Subjects for this study were 101 business school students from a highly selective business school. There were 63 males and 39 females, a proportion consistent with this business school's total population of students. The mean age of the sample was 28.2 years. A review of the literature revealed that there are no objective measures to assess care and justice moral orientations appropriate for use with a graduate student population. An anonymous, self-administered objective measure taking approximately 20 minutes was developed which was similar to the Measure of Moral Orientation (Lidell, Halpin, & Halpin, 1992). The measure elicited the following information: (1) Demographic characteristics (2) Experiences with honor code violations (3) Hypothetical situations and the reporting of honor code violations (4) Reasons for cheating and not cheating, and (5) "care" and "justice" scales. Statistical analyses included a factor analysis to identify possible subscales, and ANOVAs to determine gender differences among caring and justice orientation scores and closeness, moral orientation and the likelihood of reporting honor code violations. Chi-square analyses were performed to examine the association between gender (male, female) and moral orientation style (justice, caring, neither). This study determined that both justice and caring moral orientations were demonstrated in this sample of business students, and that these moral orientations were not associated with gender, but were significantly associated with frequency of reporting honor code violations. Finally, "closeness" of relationship with the honor code offender was found to be significantly associated with the reporting of an observed honor code violation.

Recommended Citation

Axelrod, Elizabeth Daughaday, "The relationship between moral orientation, gender, and context when reporting honor code violations in business school" (1997). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9811375.