Applying Cases to Solve Ethical Problems: The Significance of Positive and Process-Oriented Reflection

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This study examined the role of reflection on personal cases for making ethical decisions with regard to new ethical problems. Participants assumed the position of a business manager in a hypothetical organization and solved ethical problems that might be encountered. Prior to making a decision for the business problems, participants reflected on a relevant ethical experience. The findings revealed that application of material garnered from reflection on a personal experience was associated with decisions of higher ethicality. However, whether the case was viewed as positive or negative, and whether the outcomes, processes, or outcomes and processes embedded in the experience were examined, influenced the application of case material to the new problem. As expected, examining positive experiences and the processes involved in those positive experiences resulted in greater application of case material to new problems. Future directions and implications for understanding ethical decision making are discussed.


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Ethics & Behavior