A MODEL AND MEASURE OF ETHICAL DECISION MAKING:
THE ETHICS AND UTILITY OF MEASURING ETHICS
Australian Bioethics Association, Conference 2000, Sydney, 5-9 July
MR Bore, I Kerridge, D Munro & D Powis
The University of Newcastle
Ethical behaviour within the practice of medicine can also be considered a concern during medical education and, perhaps, at the point of applicant selection to medical schools. Past theory and research in moral psychology has not, however, provided models or measures of ethical behaviour that have been clearly demonstrated to accurately and reliably measure individual differences in ethical behaviour. As part of a broader research program initiated in 1997, this paper describes the development of the Dissonance Model and measure of individual differences in moral decision making. Research to date has been conducted with over 8,000 respondents including applicants to medical schools, medical students from Australia, Fiji, Israel and New Zealand, psychology students and practising clinicians. The studies have indicated that some respondents consistently give greater importance to cognitions concerning the perceived rights, welfare and relationships of individuals while other respondents consistently give greater importance to the perceived welfare and stability of the group. The former response pattern is considered to reflect a Libertarian orientation to moral decision making and the latter a Communitarian orientation. A third response pattern of giving near equal importance to both Libertarian and Communitarian cognitions is also evident in the studies and is considered to reflect a Dual orientation. The results have continuously shown the measure to be highly reliable and have also provided evidence of model and measure validity including support for the hypothesised existence of a Libertarian to Communitarian psychological construct. The ethical considerations of the utility of the measure as part of medical school applicant selection procedures are also outlined.