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An Ethical Baseline

Most people think they are ethical, particularly when the right thing to do is seemingly obvious. But as you read in the chapter, 75 percent of the respondents in a nationwide survey indicated that they had witnessed unethical behavior at work. In another study across multiple industries, 48 percent of the respondents admitted to actually committing an unethical or illegal act in the past year! And recall that with so many ways to approach ethical decision making, ethical choices are not always cut-and-dried. To give you an idea of your ethical perspective, take this assessment. Answer each of the questions using the following scale:

An Ethical Baseline

  1. Strongly agree
  2. Agree
  3. Not sure
  4. Disagree
  5. Strongly disagree
  6. Did you ever think about taking money from where you worked, but not go through with it? = 5
  7. Have you ever borrowed something from work without telling anyone? = 2
  8. There are times I’ve been provoked into a fistfight = 5
  9. Is it okay to get around the law if you don’t break it? = 5
  10. I’ve had fellow employees show me how to take things from where I work = 5
  11. I will usually take someone up on a dare. = 2
  12. I’ve always driven insured vehicles = 1
  13. If you were sent an extra item with an order, would you send it back? = 1
  14. Would you say everyone is a little dishonest? = 1


  1. Most supervisors treat their employees fairly = 5
  2. I worry about getting hurt at work = 3
  3. People say that I’m a workaholic = 2
  4. I like to plan things carefully ahead of time = 1
  5. Have you found a way a dishonest person in your job could take things from work? = 3
  6. I often act quickly without stopping to think things through = 4
  7. It doesn’t bother me what other people think = 3
  8. I have friends who are a little dishonest = 2
  9. I am not a thrill seeker = 2
  10. I have had my driver’s license revoked = 3
  11. Are you too honest to steal? =1
  12. Do most employees take small items from work? = 1
  13. Do most employees get along well with their supervisors? = 3
  14. I’m lucky to avoid having accidents = 2
  15. I always finish what I start = 1
  16. I make sure everything is in its place before leaving home = 2

Scoring An Ethical Baseline

Determine your average score for each category by entering your response to each survey item below, as follows. In blanks that say regular score, simply enter your response for that item. If your response was a 4, place a 4 in the regular score blank. In blanks that say reverse score, subtract your response from 6 and enter the result. So, if your response was a 4, place a 2 (6 – 4 = 2) in the reverse score blank. Total your scores, and then compute your average score for each section.

Antisocial Behavior

  1. Regular score =5
  2. Regular score = 2
  3. Regular score = 5
  4. Regular score = 5
  5. Regular score = 5
  6. Regular score = 2
  7. Reverse score = 1


  1. Reverse score = 1


  1. Regular score =1


  1. Regular score = 4
  2. Regular score = 3


  1. Regular score = 2


  1. Reverse score = 2


  1. Regular score = 3


  1. Reverse score = 1

TOTAL = ___42____ ÷15 = __2.8_____ (your average for Antisocial Behavior)



  1. Regular score _______ 2


  1. Regular score _______ 1


  1. Regular score _______ 1
  2. Regular score _______ 2

TOTAL = ____1.5___ ÷ 4 = ___0.375____ (your average for Orderliness/Diligence)

Positive Outlook

  1. Reverse score _______ 1
  2. Regular score _______ 5
  3. Reverse score _______ 3
  4. Reverse score _______ 1
  5. Regular score _______ 3
  6. Regular score _______ 2

TOTAL = ____15___ ÷ 6 = ___2.5____ (your average for Positive Outlook)

Interpreting the Score

Here is what your score means.

The total inventory is composed of three subscales that measure antisocial behavior, orderliness/diligence, and positive outlook. The range for the antisocial scale is 1 to 65, with an average score being 32. The range for orderliness and diligence is smaller, 1 to 20, with average scores falling around 10. And the range for positive outlook is 1–30, with an average at 15.

The themes of antisocial behavior are thoughts and admissions of theft, lack of self-control, unwillingness to abide by rules, and attitude toward wrongdoing. People with higher scores are more likely to engage in unethical behavior at work.

Orderliness involves planning and organization. An orderly person has a place for everything and puts everything in its place. Diligence involves commitment and perseverance and is manifest in activities like working long hours and finishing what you start. Orderliness/diligence measures are akin to the conscientiousness component of personality that will be discussed in Chapter 12 on diversity. If you had a high score on the orderliness/diligence subscale, you will be less likely to engage in unethical behavior at work.

Positive outlook is just what it sounds like: do you view people as basically honest, supervisors as basically good, and the workplace as generally safe, or not? People with lower scores have a more negative outlook and are more likely to engage in unethical behaviors. People who score high on positive outlook are less likely to engage in unethical behavior.An Ethical Baseline

Source: J. E. Wanek, P. R. Sackett, and D. S. Ones, “Towards an Understanding of Integrity Test Similarities and Differences: An Item-Level Analysis of Seven Tests,” Personnel Psychology 56 (2003): 873–894.