Research Companion to Ethical Behavior in Organizations

Research Companion to Ethical Behavior in Organizations

Constructs and Measures

Elgar original reference

Edited by Bradley R. Agle, David W. Hart, Jeffery A. Thompson and Hilary M. Hendricks

Compiling empirical work from management and social science disciplines, the Research Companion to Ethical Behavior in Organizations provides an entry point for academic researchers and compliance officers interested in measuring the moral dimensions of individuals. Accessible to newcomers but geared toward academics, this detailed book catalogs the varied and nuanced constructs used in behavioral ethics, along with measures that assess those constructs. With its cross-disciplinary focus and expert commentary, a varied collection of learned scholars bring essential studies into one volume, creating a resource that promises to enhance the burgeoning field of behavioral ethics.

Chapter 6: Moral emotions and emotional dispositions

Lyndon E. Garrett

Subjects: business and management, business ethics and trust, business leadership, research methods in business and management


As demonstrated by the other chapters in this book, much of the scholarship explaining moral behavior and decisions has been based on a cognitive model, especially as developed by Kohlberg. This was in direct response to a “cognition revolution” that turned researchers’ attention toward the thought processes underlying human behavior. This movement corresponded with the rise of ethics as a popular area of research. As the cognitive revolution matured in the 1980s, however, many scholars pointed out that Kohlberg and others’ focus on moral reasoning seemed to ignore the importance of moral emotions. These scholars began responding to the cognitive revolution with a complementary “affect revolution” (Tomkins, 1981). At the same time, new findings in evolutionary psychology (Pinker, 1997; Trivers, 1971) and primatology (Flack and De Waal, 2000) began to point to a set of emotions as the origin of human morality. These emotions (linked to expanding cognitive abilities) make individuals care about the welfare of others (e.g., kin altruism, including feelings of sympathy), and about cooperation, cheating, and norm-following (e.g., reciprocal altruism, including feelings of shame, gratitude, and vengeance). The increase in the number of journal articles published that address these emotions indicates that the “affect revolution” has indeed commenced. Despite a decline in journal articles on morality and moral reasoning during the 1990s, the number of articles on emotion, particularly moral emotions, has increased greatly (Haidt, 2003).

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