Analogical Encoding Fosters Ethical Decision Making Because Improved Knowledge of Ethical Principles Increases Moral Awareness

The current paper examines whether knowledge of an ethical principle influences moral awareness and ethical decision making. Using hypothetical scenarios (Studies 1 and 2) and a behavioral task (Study 3), three experiments examine the effects of deepening people’s knowledge of ethical principles (conflicts of interest in Studies 1 and 3; safety in Study 2). In each study, an analogical encoding learning intervention led to greater knowledge of an ethical principle, which in turn resulted in a greater likelihood of moral awareness and making ethical decisions. These findings suggest that moral awareness is partly a matter of the depth of individuals’ knowledge of ethical principles. The findings provide further reasons to link work on ethics with work on expertise and knowledge transfer as well as indicate new approaches to ethics training.
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