In Ethical Decision Making, Intuition Matters

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54049_ASQ_v54n1_72ppiRGB_150pixWWhen reason and logic fail, can intuition and emotion provide better guidance? An article by Chen-Bo Zhong of the University of Toronto, published in Administrative Science Quarterly, reveals the importance of intuition in moral judgment, and warns that a rationalistic approach toward ethical decision making has some potential downsides:

With few exceptions, major theories in the field of organizational research consider ethical decision making as a conscious, intentional, and deliberative process (see Treviño, Weaver, and Reynolds, 2006, for a review). In contrast, recent advances in psychology provide a decidedly different picture of how individuals make choices, indicating that deliberative decision making can actually impair people’s ability to make ethical decisions in moral dilemmas (e.g., Damasio, 1994). To explore the possible ethical dangers of deliberative decision making, I conducted a series of three experiments to test the effects of approaching a moral dilemma as a deliberative, conscious decision, as opposed to being guided by intuitive reactions, on deception and then on charitable giving.

Click here to read the article, “The Ethical Dangers of Deliberative Decision Making,” in the March 2011 issue of Administrative Science Quarterly (ASQ). Looking for additional research on the importance of emotion in organizational studies? Click here to access the ASQ Editor’s Choice Collection on Affect and Emotion, and follow this link to subscribe to e-alerts about new articles from the journal.

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