Date of Degree

6-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Psychology

Advisor

Zhiqing Zhou

Advisor

Logan L. Watts

Committee Members

Harold Goldstein

Kristin Sommer

Julie Dinh

Subject Categories

Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Keywords

ethical decision making, stress, trait mindfulness, mindfulness training

Abstract

Poor ethical decision making is an issue in many modern-day organizations. Academic research and the popular press have shown that failures in ethical decision making have resulted in harm to organizations, their employees, and the societies in which they exist. While there is much research into what may impact ethical decision making, this paper examined the effects of two understudied factors, stress and mindfulness, within a self-regulatory framework. A 2x2 experimental design with undergraduate student participants was used in which each participant was randomly assigned to a mindfulness training condition and a stress condition. Trait mindfulness was also measured as a third predictor. Ethical decision making was measured by asking participants to respond to two scenarios depicting ethical dilemmas in fictional organizations. These responses were rated by six trained raters to obtain scores for use of seven metacognitive decision making strategies and overall decision ethicality. Although support was not found for the main effects and most of the interaction hypotheses, significant interactions between trait mindfulness and stress were found for a number of metacognitive decision making strategies, providing support for the potential of trait mindfulness to buffer the negative impact of stress on ethical decision making. This highlights the promise of mindfulness interventions as mechanisms for improving ethical decision making in organizations, presenting some support for the value of their implementation within ethical training programs and as free-standing organizational initiatives. Mixed results were found for the role of self-regulation in providing a theoretical explanation for the effects of stress and mindfulness, as well as for its relationships with different mindfulness conceptualizations. Future research should investigate alternative measures and manipulations in an effort to clarify the links between these variables, as well as to provide a deeper understanding of the role of trait mindfulness as a buffer.

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