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PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, EDUCATION (oxfordre.com/education). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 01 October 2020

Summary and Keywords

How many times do people encounter an ethical dilemma within a day? Many of them, probably, say more than one. Frequently encountering ethically questionable situations which have heavy costs to both business and educational organizations is very common. It is crucial to understand how teachers, for example, make decisions when they are faced with ethically questionable situations, such as intimate relationship offers or dishonest grading desires. Indeed, every individual involved with schools—not only teachers, but principals, students, and even parents—are faced with ethically questionable situations, forcing them to choose between right and wrong, possibly benefiting themselves or the ones they are close to and/or harming innocent others. So, increasing knowledge on how individuals make judgments and act when they are confronted a dilemma is important. Which factors affects ethical decisions? Do people simply choose the options granting their positions or beneficial for them in some way? A review of theoretical models of ethical decision-making revealed that existing models need to be modified in order to cover some ignored aspects. Additionally, there seems to be a need to add new constructs to the moral intensity factor: ease of the act and magnitude of the gain are possible issue contingents to be considered. Furthermore, empirical findings, in general, present contradictory results on proposed factors affecting ethical decision-making. However, some factors, such as moral intensity and reward–sanction systems, were found to consistently affect decisions on ethically questionable issues. There are, nonetheless, many finer points to be understood regarding what exactly is happening when people face dilemmas. This suggests new studies need to be conducted.

Keywords: ethical decision-making, moral intensity, ethics in schools, ethical dilemmas, ethical perceptions, magnitude of gain, ease of act, proximity of the beneficiary

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