Moral and ethical decision making of physicians and attorneys: The influence of faith across their career lifespans



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Texas Tech University


A review of the ethical and moral development literature suggested that specific factors, such as age, education, faith, and well-being may be determinants of moral development. The literature also showed that the ethical and moral judgment of professionals has rarely been examined. Nor has the literature examined extensively the role faith plays in the professional's process of ethical and moral decision making.

The present study surveyed a sample of adult professionals, physicians and attorneys to determine what factors were predictive of ethical and moral decision making. The specific role that faith plays was assessed. Physicians and attorneys were assessed to determine any differences that might exist in ethical and moral decision making or in the faith role between the professions. A demographic questionnaire and measures of moral development, faith development, general well-being, spiritual well-being, intrinsic and extrinsic faith, and the daily spiritual experience were used to obtain this information.

Results from this study revealed that age, education, well-being, and faith were not predictive of ethical and moral decision making. Surprisingly, physicians reported high in extrinsic faith and attorneys reported high intrinsic faith.



Decision making -- Moral and ethical aspects, Professional ethics, Moral development, Faith development, Religion and ethics