Associations between the Religious Beliefs and Ethical-Reasoning Abilities of Future Accounting Professionals

By Ho, Yi-Hui | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, June 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Associations between the Religious Beliefs and Ethical-Reasoning Abilities of Future Accounting Professionals


Ho, Yi-Hui, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


It is commonly believed that an individual's religious beliefs play an important role in ethical decision making because personal values and standards are often related to the individual's religious background (Graafland, Kaptein, & Schouten, 2006). Individuals who have strong religious beliefs are more likely to follow their religious standards when facing an ethical dilemma. Consequently, in the workplace it is necessary for managers and employees to understand how people with different religious beliefs have different perceptions of ethical issues. An analysis of the relationship between religious beliefs and perceptions of business ethics could be useful for providing guidelines for those who need to execute their code of conduct in a business context.

After some significant accounting scandals around the world, such as Enron, WorldCom, Arthur, Anderson, various bodies have appealed to the public for a greater emphasis on accounting ethics; following this, a wave of discussion involving accounting ethics has taken place (Haas, 2005). Since most accounting students will be future accounting professionals, the impact of religious beliefs on accounting students' ethical reasoning abilities should be an important topic to consider in accounting ethics education. Although studies of religious beliefs and ethical reasoning have been conducted by a number of researchers, much remains to be learned about the related issues with regard to accounting students. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between ethical-reasoning abilities and religious beliefs of accounting students.

Kohlberg's (1981) ethical development theory is the most widely used for analyzing individuals' ethical-reasoning abilities. According to Kohlberg's theory, ethical reasoning is the extent to which consideration should ideally be given to resolve an ethical dilemma, and it describes the sophisticated cognitive moral structure that an individual is potentially capable of utilizing (Thorne, 2000). The development of ethical-reasoning abilities can be divided into three major levels and six stages: (1) preconventional level (including stage one: obedience and punishment orientation and stage two: instrumental purpose and exchange); (2) conventional level (including stage three: interpersonal accord and conformity and stage four: social accord and system maintenance); and (3) postconventional level (including stage five: social contract, utility, individual rights and stage six: universal ethical principles). Individuals respond differently to ethical issues in accordance with their stage of ethical reasoning, and those who are at a higher ethical stage are more likely to resist the pressure of conforming to the judgments of others. Kohlberg's theory has been used extensively to examine the levels of ethical-reasoning abilities of accounting students and professionals (Jones, Massey, & Thorne, 2003).

Religion has been recognized as one of the most important factors that can affect an individual's behavior. McDaniel and Burnett (1990) indicate that religion is a commitment to principles which are believed to be made by God. Bell (1980, p. 333) states that religion provides answers to the fundamental existential question which human groups encounter. It also offers rites for participants to celebrate and to bond in these acts of celebration from generation to generation. It is, therefore, believed that the impact of religion on social development and human behavior is significant. Past research examining individuals' ethical-reasoning abilities indicates that religious belief is a variable that has a significant impact on the development of ethical reasoning (Forte, 2004).

Religious beliefs and practices may provide guidance and direction for people in finding solutions to ethical problems. In several studies it has been indicated that individuals who are strongly committed to their religious beliefs are capable of making decisions according to their moral convictions (see e.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Associations between the Religious Beliefs and Ethical-Reasoning Abilities of Future Accounting Professionals
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?