Sensemaking strategies for ethical decision making

Jay J. Caughron, Alison L. Antes, Cheryl K. Stenmark, Chase E. Thiel, Xiaoqian Wang, Michael D. Mumford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The current study uses a sensemaking model and thinking strategies identified in earlier research to examine ethical decision making. Using a sample of 163 undergraduates, a low-fidelity simulation approach is used to study the effects personal involvement (in causing the problem and personal involvement in experiencing the outcomes of the problem) could have on the use of cognitive reasoning strategies that have been shown to promote ethical decision making. A mediated model is presented which suggests that environmental factors influence reasoning strategies, reasoning strategies influence sensemaking, and sensemaking in turn influences ethical decision making. Findings were mixed but generally supported the hypothesized model. It is interesting to note that framing the outcomes of ethically charged situations in terms of more global organizational outcomes rather than personal outcomes was found to promote the use of pro-ethical cognitive reasoning strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-366
Number of pages16
JournalEthics and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Ethical decision making
  • Ethics
  • Reasoning strategies
  • Sensemaking


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