The Role of Faith in Shaping Ethical Perceptions and Intentions

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Abstract

This article seeks to explore how faith affects ethical perceptions and intentions to act when one is faced with an ethical dilemma. It tests four hypotheses with regard to perceiving an ethical situation and acting with ethical intentions in light of one’s religious affiliation and the level of importance given to faith. Respondents were students at a Catholic liberal arts college. Data for this research was collected across various undergraduate classes. The sample includes 310 survey observations. The article suggests that the marginal effect of perceived harm on ethical intentions for people of higher levels of faith is more negative than the same marginal effect for people with lower levels of faith. The larger negative effect implies that when faced with a scenario with increased perceived harm, as measured in the moral intensity literature, in an ethical situation, people of high levels of faith are more likely to act with ethical intentions than people of low levels of faith.