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Religiosity and Gender Significant Predictors of Attitudes About Business Ethics

Oct. 7, 2002

The more frequently college students attend church, the more disapproving they are likely to be of ethically questionable business situations, according to joint research done at two universities in the United States.

"On the other hand," says Dr. Tisha Nakao Emerson, assistant professor of economics at Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business, "We find that completion of ethics or religion classes has a minimal impact on responses."

Students at Baylor University and the University of West Florida were presented with 25 business vignettes.  The vignettes covered a variety of ethical dimensions, including environmental, accounting, marketing ethics, gender discrimination, equal opportunities, bribery and ethical codes of conduct.  Students were asked to rate the degree to which they felt each scenario was ethically acceptable.

"Other noteworthy predictors of ethical perceptions are the factors of gender and age," adds Dr. Stephen Conroy, assistant professor at the University of West Florida.  Males and older students consistently found the ethically questionable situations presented in the vignettes more acceptable than the rest of the respondents.

In addition, white respondents having a father with at least a college degree found several of the vignettes more acceptable than the rest of the group.

"Our results suggest that a more ethnically and sexually diverse, older, and church-going management team may well have reduced the probability of the Enron debacle," stated Emerson.  "Higher church attendance and greater diversity may be the best preparation for the ethical challenges that we are likely to face in today's and tomorrow's economy."

For the complete article detailing the findings of this research, visit Baylor's business web site at

For more information, Dr. Tisha Nakao Emerson can be reached directly at 254-710-4180 or by email at


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