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Abstract

Moral Intensity This paper explores the role of an individual’s

and Ethical perception of situation-specific issues on decision-


making in ethical situations. It does so by examining
the influence of moral intensity on a person’s
Decision-Making: perceptions of an ethical problem, and subsequent
intentions. Moral intensity (Jones, 1991) is an issue-
A Contextual contingent model of ethical decision-making based
on the supposition that situations vary in terms of the

Extension moral imperative present in that situation. An


individual’s decision is guided by his or her
assessment of six different components that
collectively comprise the moral intensity of the
situation. The relationship between the components
Tim Goles of moral intensity and the decision-making process is
University of Texas at San Antonio tested through the use of scenarios that present IS-
related ethical situations. The results indicate that
moral intensity plays a significant role in shaping the
Gregory B. White
perceptions and intentions of individuals faced with
University of Texas at San Antonio IS-related ethical situations. The conclusion drawn
from this is that, consistent with prior research, the
Nicole Beebe decision-making process is influenced by an
University of Texas at San Antonio individual’s perception of situation-specific issues;
that is, the moral intensity of the situation.
Carlos A. Dorantes ACM Categories: K.4.1, K.7.4
University of Texas at San Antonio Keywords: Ethics, Ethical Decision-making,
Intentions, Moral Intensity, Perceived Ethical
Barbara Hewitt Problems, PLS
University of Texas at San Antonio
Introduction
Concern over ethical decision-making in business
has dramatically increased recently due to incidents
such as the Enron and Global Crossing scandals.
This is paralleled by mounting apprehension over the
misuse of information systems and technology,
leading to calls for more research that explores
ethical decision-making in an information systems
(IS) context (Banerjee et al., 1998; Cappel &
Windsor, 1998; Ellis & Griffith, 2001). This paper
answers that call by extending research investigating
ethical decision-making in the marketing field to
generate new knowledge in the IS arena. It does so
by employing the concept of moral intensity, or “the
extent of issue-related moral imperative in a
situation,” (Jones, 1991, p. 372) to examine an
individual’s perception of IS-based ethical scenarios,
Acknowledgements and subsequent behavioral intentions. Moral intensity
suggests that ethical decisions are primarily
The authors would like to thank the anonymous contingent upon the perceived characteristics of the
reviewers for their insightful and helpful comments on issue at stake, and therefore ethical decision-making
this paper, and Sue Brown for her advice and support involves the collective assessment of those
in her role as Guest Editor of this special issue. The characteristics. For example, using a company-
paper greatly benefited from their contributions. owned electronic mail system to send innocuous
personal messages (e.g., sending a shopping list to

86 The DATA BASE for Advances in Information Systems - Spring-Summer 2006 (Vol. 37, Nos. 2 & 3)
one’s spouse) would be rated low in moral intensity extend their study by testing the model using a
by many people. On the other hand, using that same confirmatory approach in place of the exploratory
system to send harmful or malicious messages (e.g., approach they used, and by changing the context to
child pornography or hate literature) would probably IS-related situations. This is a valid and necessary
be ranked high in moral intensity. step in expanding the ethical decision-making body of
knowledge, due to the emergence of new and
A basic premise of this study is that ethics are largely
unanticipated issues brought about by the rapid
situation-specific. This is in line with the argument
development and deployment of information systems
that “hypernorms,” or fundamental ethical principles,
and technology (Maner, 1996; Moor, 1985). These
cannot effectively address all behaviors because
issues arise from factors that add an element of
there are a large number of diverse milieus in which
uniqueness to IS-related situations.
people live, work, and play, and these milieus often
have different ethical norms (Conger & Loch, 2001). The unique factors that are salient in shaping the
A second premise is that the proliferation of IS in ethics of individuals in an IS setting include cultural
societal, business, and personal settings has lag (Ogburn, 1966), moral distancing (Rubin, 1994),
spawned new ethical issues, or at least exacerbated and context-specific norm development (Conger &
existing ones. Thus the purpose of this paper is to Loch, 2001). The notion of cultural lag (Ogburn,
explore the impact of moral intensity on two 1966) argues that the evolution of material culture
significant components of ethical decision-making in (e.g., technological inventions, innovation, and
an IS context: an individual’s perception of an ethical diffusion) outpaces non-material culture (e.g., ethics,
problem, and ensuing intentions. philosophy, and law). This is reflected in current
debates revolving around the interplay between the
Internet and issues related to privacy, intellectual
Prior Research property rights, and pornography (Marshall, 1999).
Moral distancing suggests that information systems
Much prior research into ethical decision making has and technologies may increase the propensity for
focused on personal characteristics (gender, age, unethical behavior by allowing an individual to
education, level of moral development) and social or dissociate himself from an act and its consequences
organizational factors (corporate ethical climate, (Rubin, 1994). Development of ethical norms often
influence of peer groups, codes of ethics). Meta- varies across different contexts or milieus.
analyses of this research reveals mixed results, and Consensus on ethical norms within each milieu helps
recommends further empirical testing, particularly in define acceptable behavior for that setting, and may
the area of ethical decision-making intentions and provide a guide to ethical behavior in an IS context
moral intensity (Ford & Richardson, 1994; Loe et al., (Conger & Loch, 2001). Furthermore, it has been
2000). These meta-analyses also suggest that ethical argued that IS ethical issues are philosophically
decision-making is situation-specific, a conclusion interesting in their own light, and deserving of
that is seconded by empirical studies in marketing recognition as a legitimate domain of applied ethics
(Singhapakdi et al., 1996) and IS (Banerjee et al., that merits further investigation (Tavani, 2002). Thus
1998). it is appropriate and desirable to evaluate the
Moral intensity (Jones, 1991) is often used to applicability of existing theory to ethical decision-
examine ethical decision-making in different making in an IS context.
circumstances (Chia & Mee, 2000; Frey, 2000;
Harrington, 1996; Morris & McDonald, 1995; Paolillo
& Vitell, 2002; Singer, 1996; Singhapakdi et al., Model Development
1996). In brief, this theory postulates that moral
Moral intensity is multidimensional, consisting of six
issues can be viewed in terms of underlying
components: 1) magnitude of consequences - the
characteristics that influence the various stages of
aggregate harm or benefits of the act; 2) probability
the decision making process.
of effect - the likelihood that the act will cause harm
This paper draws from a previous study that or benefits; 3) temporal immediacy – the length of
investigated the impact of moral intensity on two time between the act and its consequences; 4)
components of ethical decision-making, ethical concentration of effect – the number of people
perceptions and behavioral intentions, in a marketing affected by the act; 5) proximity – the social distance
context (Singhapakdi et al., 1996). Their findings are between the decision maker and those affected by
consistent with prior research indicating that the act; and 6) social consensus – the degree to
situation-specific issues influence the ethical which others think the act is good or evil (Jones,
decision-making process, and that moral intensity 1991).
helps to shape perceptions and intentions. We

The DATA BASE for Advances in Information Systems - Spring-Summer 2006 (Vol. 37, Nos. 2 & 3) 87
Perceived
Ethical
Problem

Moral Behavioral
Intensity Intentions

Figure 1. Research Model (based on Singhapakdi et al., 1996).

A person’s collective assessment of these Factor # %


characteristics results in a given situation’s moral Gender
intensity. This influences the individual’s moral Male 213 49.9
judgment, intentions, and subsequent behavior. In Female 214 50.1
general, issues with high moral intensity will be Age
recognized as ethical dilemmas more often than 19-24 295 68.9
those with low moral intensity, leading to a positive 25-30 84 19.6
relationship between moral intensity and perception 31-40 31 7.2
of an ethical problem. Furthermore, issues with high 41+ 18 4.2
moral intensity have a positive relationship with an Mean age = 24.55
individual’s intention to behave in an ethical manner
Major
(Singhapakdi et al., 1996). Consistent with existing
Accounting 83 19
ethical theories (Dubinsky & Loken, 1989; Ferrel et
Economics 25 5.7
al., 1989; Hunt & Vitell, 1986; Singhapakdi et al.,
1999) we postulate an additional positive Finance 49 11.2
relationship between perception of an ethical IS 39 8.9
problem and intention to behave ethically. This is Management 104 23.8
reflected in the research model shown in Figure 1. Marketing 75 17.2
Mgt. Science 10 2.3
Other 52 11.9
Methodology Employment Status
Part time 213 49.2
Sample Full time 115 26.6
Participants were solicited from all sections of the Not employed 105 24.2
core IS course required for business majors at a Number of Surveys
large southwestern state university. Participation Distributed 511
was voluntary. Details are provided in Table 1. Usable Responses1 442
Response Rate 86%
Operationalization
Table 1. Demographics
Data was collected via a scenario-based
questionnaire. Scenarios are commonly used to Scenario Validation
examine ethical judgments and intentions in many
It is crucial that scenarios used in an empirical test of
different areas, including IS (Banerjee et al., 1998;
moral intensity be perceived as presenting an ethical
Cappel & Windsor, 1998; Ellis & Griffith, 2001;
problem (Hunt & Vitell, 1986).
Harrington, 1996). Consistent with this approach,
scenarios developed by Ellis & Griffith (2001) were 1
Our predetermined criteria were to reject any that answered every
adopted (Appendix A). Measures of moral intensity question with the same number (e.g., all “5”) or any that were missing
were adapted from prior research, as were items entire sections of data. There was one survey rejected for identical
that measured ethical perceptions and intentions answers, and two for incomplete data, resulting in a total of 442
(Singhapakdi et al., 1996) (Appendix B). usable surveys. Every respondent did not answer each demographic
question, so the totals for each factor may not equal 442.

88 The DATA BASE for Advances in Information Systems - Spring-Summer 2006 (Vol. 37, Nos. 2 & 3)
Scenario
Moral Intensity 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Components
Magnitude of Mean 6.46 5.50 4.57 4.66 4.54 5.75 5.88
Consequences Std. Deviation 2.14 2.34 2.40 2.30 2.15 2.21 2.17
Social Mean 5.66 6.36 6.53 6.33 5.73 6.27 4.74
Consensus Std. Deviation 2.16 2.24 2.12 2.12 2.20 2.35 2.22
Temporal Mean 6.76 5.57 4.80 4.81 4.57 6.05 6.03
Immediacy Std. Deviation 1.90 2.23 2.40 2.21 2.15 2.05 2.02
Probability of Mean 6.39 5.52 4.59 4.82 4.57 5.90 5.74
Effect Std. Deviation 2.08 2.25 2.34 2.23 2.16 2.09 2.06
Proximity Mean 5.22 6.06 5.67 5.94 5.75 5.93 4.85
Std. Deviation 2.09 2.36 2.53 2.43 2.36 2.56 2.34
Concentration of Mean 6.40 5.69 3.94 4.65 4.44 5.42 5.70
Effect Std. Deviation 1.95 2.29 2.31 2.34 2.22 2.20 2.13
Perceived Ethical Mean 3.70 3.03 3.47 2.95 3.97 2.58 4.54
Problem Std. Deviation 2.22 2.09 2.20 1.97 2.32 1.90 2.57
t-value 12.23 19.78 14.65 21.90 9.23 26.78 3.72
Intentions Mean 6.15 6.84 7.02 5.95 5.42 5.88 5.35
Std. Deviation 2.35 2.14 2.32 2.58 2.56 2.63 2.45
t-value 10.30 18.05 18.33 7.733 3.48 6.99 3.02
For the Moral Intensity components, a higher mean indicates a higher level of moral intensity.
For Perceived Ethical Problem, a lower mean indicates the scenario is perceived to present a greater ethical problem. All
the t-values are significant at the .05 level.
For Intentions, a higher mean indicates a greater intention to behave in a different (more ethical) manner than the actor in
the scenario. All the t-values are significant at the .05 level.

Table 2. Scenario Means, Standard Deviations, and t-values

Furthermore, to test the underlying premise of moral value for each scenario, indicating the respondents
intensity, the scenarios should vary in terms of the viewed each scenario as involving an ethical problem.
different components. To ensure this, the scenarios As expected, the results for scenario 7 suggest that
were evaluated through a three-stage process. First, the respondents viewed this scenario as less intense
an independent panel of researchers reviewed the than the others.
scenarios to determine whether or not they presented
Additionally, the means and t-values for intentions vary
an ethical problem. There was consensus that the first
according to scenario, and the t-values indicate a
six did indeed involve an ethical situation. Scenario
significant difference between the respondents and the
seven was judged to be marginal. However, it was
actors in the scenarios. This suggests that the
included to determine if respondents would
respondents are ‘ethically sensitive’, in that they can
differentiate between what the panel felt were clear
differentiate between scenarios, and are inclined to
ethical problems and one that was deemed to be
behave differently – that is, more ethically – than the
borderline.
scenario actors. Again, the differences are much less
Next, the means and standard deviations of the for scenario 7.
responses for each scenario were calculated (Table
2). The results suggest that the respondents perceive Analysis
each of the moral intensity components as varying
PLS Graph version 3.0 was used to analyze the
between scenarios. Likewise, the results varied for
research model for two reasons. First, the model
“perceived ethical problem”, again suggesting that the
contains both formative constructs (moral intensity)
respondents viewed each scenario as differing in
and reflective constructs (perceived ethical problem;
ethical considerations.
intentions). Constructs measured by formative
Finally, t-tests were conducted comparing the mean indicators cannot be adequately evaluated using
responses of “perceived ethical problem” and covariance-based structural equation modeling
“intentions” for each scenario to the neutral value of 5 techniques such as LISREL or AMOS. PLS has the
(the midpoint of the 9-point Likert scale). As Table 2 ability to deal with both types of indicators (Chin,
indicates, there was a significant difference between 1998a). Second, within each individual scenario the
the perceived ethical problem mean and the neutral reflective constructs are measured using single-item

The DATA BASE for Advances in Information Systems - Spring-Summer 2006 (Vol. 37, Nos. 2 & 3) 89
indicators. Consequently, their measurement error
cannot be estimated. However, PLS provides results
identical to multiple regression analysis in the case of
single-item indicators (Chin et al., 2003).
Formative indicators are defining characteristics of the
construct; they form or ‘cause’ the construct, as
opposed to reflective indicators that are manifestations
of the construct. Formative indicators are not
necessarily correlated with each other, nor can
unidimensionality be assumed. Thus commonly used
methods to assess individual item reliability and
convergent validity are irrelevant (Chin, 1998a; Gefen
et al., 2000). Instead, item weights are used in place of
loadings and are interpreted similar to beta coefficients
in multiple regression, indicating the relevance of the
items to the research model (Chin, 1998b). Statistical
significance was determined by using the bootstrap
option with 200 resamples. Each scenario was
analyzed individually in accordance with the research
model (Figure 1). In addition, a “mega-scenario” was
created, consisting of the aggregated responses to all
seven individual scenarios. The weights and t-statistics
for the formative indicators are presented in Table 3.
The structural model is assessed by examining the r2
values, path values, and associated t-statistics, as
shown in Tables 4 and 5.

Results and Discussion


Table 3 indicates that, as expected, moral intensity is
situation–specific; that is, the significance of each
component varies by scenario. For example, social
consensus is significant in all seven of the scenarios,
while concentration of effect is significant in only one.
This is not entirely unexpected, nor without precedent.
Previous research suggests that the impact of
individual components on overall moral intensity varies
according to the characteristics of the scenario, both in
IS (Banerjee et al., 1998; Cappel & Windsor, 1998;
Ellis & Griffith, 2001) and non-IS (Chia & Mee, 2000;
Frey, 2000; Morris & McDonald, 1995) contexts.
In addition to differences in scenario characteristics,
there is another possible explanation for the
inconsistent showing of two specific components,
probability of effect and concentration of effect. There
exists a cognitive bias in risk perception that often
leads people to underestimate potential future risky or
negative implications of a situation (Jones, 1991).
Although Jones downplays this bias, it may have
weakened the recognition of these two components.
Nevertheless, this does not invalidate the concept of
moral intensity. Overall, Table 3 reinforces the notion
that moral intensity is truly issue-contingent.

90 The DATA BASE for Advances in Information Systems - Spring-Summer 2006 (Vol. 37, Nos. 2 & 3)
Perceived Ethical Harrington, 1996; Hunt & Vitell, 1986). To explore this
Problem Intentions further, the indirect effect of moral intensity on
Scenario 1 0.166 0.329 intentions was investigated. The indirect effect is
Scenario 2 0.228 0.309 calculated by multiplying the path coefficient from
Scenario 3 0.336 0.325 moral intensity to perceived ethical problem (0.637)
Scenario 4 0.175 0.282 by the path coefficient from perceived ethical problem
Scenario 5 0.260 0.399 to intentions (0.144). The resulting indirect effect
Scenario 6 0.249 0.195 (0.637 * 0.144 = 0.092), when added to the direct
Scenario 7 0.280 0.277 effect of moral intensity on intentions (0.564) results
Mega-Scenario 0.406 0.443 in a total effect of moral intensity on intentions of
0.656 (0.092 + 0.564 = 0.656). This suggests that
Table 4. r2 Values moral intensity strongly influences intentions, both
directly and indirectly, through an individual’s
Also of interest are the implications drawn from perception of the ethical ramifications of a given
Tables 4 and 5. The r2 values signify that, overall, the situation. One reason for the lack of direct effect
model explains 41% of the variance in the perceived between perceived ethical problem and intentions
ethical problem construct, and 44% of the variance in might be that individuals assess a specific situation in
behavioral intentions. The variance explained is less terms of moral intensity without consciously realizing
in the individual scenarios, due to the uniqueness of that they are going through an ethical evaluation
each scenario. Table 5 indicates that all the paths process. In other words, they base their behavioral
from moral intensity to perceived ethical problem, and intentions on their own egocentric value system,
from moral intensity to intentions, exceed the oversimplifying the situation and bypassing a formal
suggested minimum standard of 0.20 (Chin, 1998b), assessment of the ethical implications (Cappel &
and are statistically significant. This suggests that Windsor, 1998).
moral intensity does indeed help to explain the
relative influence of situational factors on the ethical Conclusion
decision-making process. There is, however, less
support for the expected relationship between This paper examined the role of moral intensity in the
perceived ethical problem and intentions. The overall ethical decision-making process in an IS context. It
path coefficient, although statistically significant, falls contributes to the body of knowledge by extending
below the 0.20 threshold, as do the path coefficients existing theory to a new context, and by employing a
for scenarios 1, 2, 6, and 7. This is not fully in confirmatory analytical approach. The results support
accordance with suggestions in the literature that the basic concept underlying moral intensity; the
perceptions of an ethical problem precede intentions decision-making process is influenced by the
(Dubinsky & Loken, 1989; Ferrell et al., 1989; individual’s perception of situation-specific issues.

To: From:
From: Perceived From: Perceived
Moral Ethical Moral To: Ethical To:
Intensity Problem Intensity Intentions Problem Intentions
path path path
coefficient t-statistic coefficient t-statistic coefficient t-statistic
Scenario 1 0.408 *** 8.633 0.524 *** 9.802 0.103 * 1.818
Scenario 2 0.478 *** 11.430 0.501 *** 10.110 0.099 * 1.962
Scenario 3 0.579 *** 18.674 0.307 *** 5.684 0.335 *** 5.596
Scenario 4 0.418 *** 8.783 0.387 *** 8.564 0.235 *** 4.810
Scenario 5 0.510 *** 10.407 0.490 *** 9.768 0.221 *** 4.306
Scenario 6 0.499 *** 11.860 0.352 *** 5.884 0.144 *** 2.364
Scenario 7 0.529 *** 13.416 0.508 *** 10.483 0.032 0.563
Mega- 0.637 *** 20.258 0.564 *** 12.095 0.144 *** 2.666
Scenario
*** significant at the .05 level
*** significant at the .01 level
Table 5. Path Coefficients and t-statistics

The DATA BASE for Advances in Information Systems - Spring-Summer 2006 (Vol. 37, Nos. 2 & 3) 91
This is consistent with previous research, and judgment of ethical issues can provide guidance to
extends research in other areas into an IS context, organizations seeking to foster an ethical corporate
providing additional assurance that moral intensity is climate. Nevertheless, it would be prudent to extend
a viable theoretical concept across varying settings. this study to include IS professionals.
The results also highlight both the direct and indirect
If moral intensity is indeed a key component in ethical
role of moral intensity in shaping behavioral
decision-making, as suggested by this study, then a
intentions.
significant implication is that both students and
It is intriguing to speculate as to what extent the professionals may benefit from a better
factors (cultural lag, moral distancing, and context- understanding of moral intensity’s individual
specific norm development) that make IS-related components. Educating individuals on potential
ethical issues different from other contexts may have consequences and implications of ethical problems
influenced the results of this study. For example, could sharpen their perception and decision-making
concentration of effect was significant in only one skills when they encounter ethically sensitive
scenario. This may be due, at least in part, to a lack situations. This may be accomplished through a mix
of consensus on ethical norms regarding of instruction at the university level, and on-going
technological innovations, arising in turn from the education and training at the professional level.
time lag between technological evolution and norm Discussion of various scenarios, such as the ones
development, the ability of technology to diffuse or used in this paper, can serve as a vehicle to aid
spread out the impact of an act, or a combination of individuals in evaluating their ethical reasoning, and
the two. These factors may also have undermined comparing it to others. This can be supplemented
any direct effect between perceived ethical problem with establishing guidelines for individual
and intentions. Our opinion is that these factors do in accountability (Banerjee et al., 1998), publishing and
fact differentiate IS-related ethical issues from those enforcing codes of ethics (Harrington, 1996), and
in other fields. Obviously, however, much work implementing detective, preventive, and deterrence
remains to be done to confirm or refute this belief. measures (Straub et al., 1993).
As with any study, this one is subject to certain In short, the findings from this study furnish insight
limitations, one of which is the use of students as into the ethical decision-making process. Initiatives
research subjects. Previous research has shown that based on these insights offer an opportunity to
students’ views on ethical dilemmas vary from increase the comfort level and decision-making
professionals. Students tend to view workplace- capability of individuals when confronted by ethically
based ethical situations from an individual complex situations.
perspective, while professionals tend to take the
firm’s perspective into account. Professionals are
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About the Authors San Antonio. She has over a decade of experience in
information security in both the corporate and
Tim Goles is Assistant Professor at the University of government sector. She is a Certified Information
Texas at San Antonio. He earned his Ph.D. from the Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and holds
University of Houston. He has over fifteen years degrees in electrical engineering and criminal justice.
management experience in the information
technology arena, including evaluating, developing, Carlos Alberto Dorantes is a doctoral student in
and implementing strategic and operational Information Technology at the University of Texas at
information systems, outsourcing contract San Antonio. He obtained his M.S. in Computer
management, and IS security. His research interests Science from the Tecnológico de Monterrey. He has
and publications parallel his work experience. over a decade of experience in enterprise systems
implementation in a multi-campus university. His
Dr. Gregory White obtained his Ph.D. in Computer work has appeared in IS conferences such as HICSS
Science from Texas A&M University in 1995 and has and AMCIS.
been involved in computer and network security
research since 1986. He currently serves as the Barbara Hewitt is a doctoral candidate in Information
Director for the Center for Infrastructure Assurance Technology at the University of Texas at San
and Security and is an Associate Professor of Antonio. She has over a decade of experience in
Computer Science at The University of Texas at San system analysis and software development in the
Antonio (UTSA). corporate, education, and government sectors. She
holds degrees in computer science and business
Nicole Lang Beebe is a doctoral candidate in administration.
Information Technology at the University of Texas at

Appendix A: IS Ethics Scenarios


(adapted from Ellis and Griffith, 2001)

Scenario 1: A programmer developed a tool that would contact corporate sites, scan their networks, and find flaws
in their security system. The programmer made the software available to everyone over the Internet. Corporations
felt the programmer was assisting hackers and cyber-criminals. The programmer felt that he was providing a tool for
network managers to troubleshoot their security systems.
Scenario 2: A popular Internet Service Provider (ISP) offers online registration. Any user with an Internet connection
can access the Hookyouup Network and register for Internet service. What the users do not know is that as part of
registration, the ISP scans their hard drive assessing their system for potential new software marketing
opportunities.
Scenario 3: Ruth likes to play practical jokes on friends. Once she tried to log on to Jim’s account, guessing his
password was his wife’s name. Once she had access, she installed a program that would flash the message “There
is no Escape” every time the escape key was pressed. Jim discovered the joke after a few days and was upset.
Scenario 4: Joe is giving an on-line demonstration in which he uses software that was licensed for a 90-day trial
period. Prior to giving the seminar, he noted that the license would expire. Rather than pay the licensing fee, he
changes the date on his computer, effectively fooling the software into believing it is at the beginning of the licensing
period.
Scenario 5: Anna needs software to convert TIFF formatted images to GIF format. She found an excellent piece of
shareware and has used it once to convert the images. The shareware developer requests that she send $5 if she
likes and uses the software. She has not sent a check to the developer to date.
Scenario 6: Joan is a programmer at XYZ, Inc. While working late one night, she notices that her boss has left his
computer on. She enters his office to turn it off and finds that he is still connected to his email. She scans the
messages briefly, noticing whom they are from and what the topics are. One message catches her eye. It is
regarding herself in an unflattering way.
Scenario 7: Jim was recently fired from The Spot, a national discount department store. Jim is a techno-savvy
individual who felt he was wrongfully fired. In protest, he created a web page called “This Spot Unfair” in order to
state his case to the world about The Spot’s unfair treatment.

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Appendix B: Measures
(adapted from Singhapakdi et al., 1996)

Strongly . . . . Neutral . . . . Strongly


Agree Disagree
1. The situation above involves an ethical problem. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
2. I would act in the same manner as (the actor) did in the above
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
scenario.
3. The overall harm (if any) done as a result of (the actor’s) action
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
would be very small.
4. Most people would agree that (the actor’s) actions are wrong. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
5. (The actor’s) actions will not cause any harm in the immediate
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
future.
6. There is a very small likelihood that (the actor’s) actions will
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
actually cause any harm.
7. If (the actor) is a personal friend of her boss, the action is
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
wrong.
8. (The actor’s) actions will harm very few people (if any). 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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