Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Nathan Bowling (Committee Member), Melissa Gruys (Committee Member), David Lahuis (Committee Member), Debra Steele-Johnson (Committee Chair)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


There were four purposes for this study. One purpose was to develop a direct assessment of individuals' ethical schemas for how to operate within work settings. I proposed structural assessment using Pathfinder as a means of measuring the structural network of ethical knowledge. I expected structural assessment to be a better means of assessing moral development within organizations than the Defining Issues Test (Rest, 1979). A second purpose was to examine the extent to which implicit aspects of the ethical decision-making process have differential effects on behavioral criteria than explicit aspects of ethical decision-making. A third purpose of this study was to examine the impact that contextual factors (i.e., ethical work climates) have on ethical decision-making and behavior. Thus, I investigated the unique and interactive effects of ethical work climates and ethical decision-making on behavioral criteria. Finally, a fourth purpose of this study was to merge the ethical behavior and counterproductive work behavior (CWB) literatures to increase our understanding about theory and variables in both literatures. There were two data collections. In the first sample, I used college undergraduates to develop measures. In the second sample, I conducted formal tests of hypotheses. I recruited individuals who participated in Amazon's MechanicalTurk program, which reflected a diverse set of individuals with a wealth of work experience. In addition, I used full-time employees who were enrolled in an MBA program to increase sample size. I used hierarchical regression to test hypotheses. Results showed that using structural assessment and Pathfinder to measure ethical schemas accounted for unique variance in CWBs, controlling for the DIT, and that implicit processes exhibited a greater impact on CWBs than explicit processes. The implications for theory development, training, selection and organizational cultures are discussed.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Psychology

Year Degree Awarded