Compensatory ethics

Chen Bo Zhong, Gillian Ku, Robert B. Lount, J. Keith Murnighan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Several theories, both ancient and recent, suggest that having the time to contemplate a decision should increase moral awareness and the likelihood of ethical choices. Our findings indicated just the opposite: greater time for deliberation led to less ethical decisions. Post-hoc analyses and a followup experiment suggested that decision makers act as if their previous choices have created or lost moral credentials: after an ethical first choice, people acted significantly less ethically in their subsequent choice but after an unethical first choice, people acted significantly more ethically in their subsequent choice. These findings provide the basis for a model of compensatory ethics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-339
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2010


  • Compensatory
  • Decision making
  • Equilibrium
  • Ethics
  • Moral awareness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law


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