Assignment #14

Final Essay

Tiffany Lin

Professor Wilson Ding 

Writing II ENG 2150 

17 May 2024 

To What Extent Do Individual Personalities Influence Morally Ethic Decision-making Processes Across Various Contexts? 

Something I realized on my way of being more independent is that our parents are like our teachers. We would normally learn a lot from them as we grow. Their habits would turn into our habits. Their morals and personalities might also turn into our morals and personalities. As I think about it, I come to realize that I am a lot like my mom. We have a lot of the same habits, and some of my personality is somewhat like hers. How close we are in the relationship of being mother and daughter does not affect how much we can be a like. My sister is closer to my mom, but she is more like my dad; I am evenly close to both, but I am more like my mom. This brought me to realize that a lot of the decisions I’ve made were affected by my morals and ethics, and I want to get to know more about it. By connecting my experiences of decision making with the research I did, I got a deeper understanding of the influence of individual personalities on moral and ethical decision-making processes. 

Decisions to be made consist of two different types of decisions. There are very important decisions, which come up when there is a major event that will impact our future severely. Those decisions would include having a first job during high school, continuing education (going to college after high school), life after college, etc. There are also regular daily decisions, which aren’t as important but can affect us as much as important decisions when put together. Throughout important decisions, there would be a series of regular daily decisions. But overall, every decision made can lead us to a different outcome. Knowing the above, this brings us to the first important decision I’ve made that I can remember. That important decision was should I find a job during my junior year of high school? To make this decision, I had to consider a lot of things. Can I manage my time well between schoolwork and my job? Yes, I can (at least I thought I could at that time) because I can go to school in the morning and then go to work after school. How would I find this job, since it would be my first job and I have no experience? I can go ask my sister or any friends with jobs. I can also find available jobs online or go around areas I normally would pass to see if they are hiring. There are many ways to find a job so I am not worried about that, but I am worried if they would accept me. Would my parents agree to me to get a job? At that time, I was not sure but since they let my sister when she was that age, I thought they would let me too. Why do I want to find a job? There are a few reasons why I want a job. I want to find a job because my parents work hard for the family, so I want to contribute as well. My family isn’t wealthy but there are six of us and our spending is high so I thought it would be best if I could help. I don’t want them to work too hard. Also, because getting a job could help my future. I can have experience to write about in my future resume and it would make it slightly easier to find jobs afterwards. In “Principled moral sentiment and the flexibility of moral judgment and decision making” written by Daniel M. Bartels, Bartels explains that choice and judgements are shaped by morals, emotional reactions, and benefits of it:  

The current studies aim for synthesis and find that moral cognition is predicated on moral rules, emotional reactions, and assessments of costs and benefits. Specifically, they suggest (1) that contexts that direct attention to violations of moral rules generate deontology-consistent emotional reactions, (2) that deontological response is diminished in contexts that direct attention to utilitarian considerations, and (3) that contextual factors interact with situation-specific values and individual differences to shape moral judgment and choice. (Daniel 382) 

Daniel M. Bartels investigates the underpinnings of moral cognition, integrating elements of moral rules, emotional reactions, and cost-benefit assessments. The quote provided encapsulates the main findings and implications of his research, highlighting three key insights into how context influences moral judgments and decision-making processes.  

The flexibility implies that personality traits (such as empathy, which might incline one towards deontological reactions) and contextual cues (such as emphasizing outcomes or rules) interact dynamically to influence ethical decisions. Just like what Daniel M. Bartels wrote, my judgement on the decision was based off my morals, emotions, and the benefit of the situation. After considering all the questions, I decided to go find my first job during my junior year. As a result of this choice, I did manage my time between school and work well at first but near the end of the school year, I was stressed out from the load of work in school and that affected me when I went to work. That brought me to another decision and that would be to quit the job. I did. But, this job did benefit me a lot. 

Moral wise, the decision to take up a job during my junior year was rooted in a sense of responsibility and a desire to gain independence. This aligns with the deontological perspective, which emphasizes the importance of fulfilling duties and adhering to ethical principles. By choosing to work, I am a commitment to self-reliance and personal growth. Emotion wise, I was excited for the job and satisfied that I was balancing school and work.  This made me feel a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. However, as the academic year progressed, the increased workload from both school and job led to stress and burnout. The stress and emotional fatigue indicated that continuing to work was not sustainable for me. These emotional reactions played a significant role in my decision to eventually quit the job. Benefit wise, the job provided several significant benefits. Financially, it allowed me to earn money, which is a practical benefit that supports independence and financial literacy. Additionally, I gained valuable experiences and skills from my coworkers, which enriched my personal and professional development. These experiences not only benefited me in the short term but also laid the foundation for future job opportunities, as the skills and lessons learned helped me secure my next job. 

Another important decision I’ve made was going to college and choosing which college to go to. Deciding to go to college is something important. During my senior year of high school, I had to make the choice of whether I should go to college or just work full time. In “The influence of identifiability and singularity in moral decision making” by Johanna Wiss, David Andersson, Paul Slovic, Daniel Västfjäl, and Gustav Tinghög, two critical aspects of the study: the nature of moral judgments and the process of moral decision making were explained. We see that moral decision making involves choosing between alternatives that represent competing values and making trade-offs between them: 

As indicated this study has two points of departure. The first is research on moral judgments and more specifically moral decision making. Moral judgements are typically viewed as evaluations of the behaviour of an individual with respect to a set of virtues held as a norm in a certain social context (Haidt, 2001). Moral decision making, thus, is the actual choice between two or more alternatives, where individuals are forced to make trade-offs between competing moral values. (Johanna, David, Paul, Daniel, Gustav 492-493) 

This study is relevant to understanding how individual personalities influence morally ethical decision-making processes because it underscores the role of social norms and emotional engagement in moral judgments. The trade-offs between competing values in moral decision making reflect the complex interplay between personal virtues and societal expectations. In my case, the decision to go to college versus entering the workforce involved weighing the long-term benefits of education against the immediate financial gains of working full time. I also had to consider my parents and other people around me like my teachers and friends. The people around me all prefer that I continue my education and go to college. I also want to continue my education so everything came into place, and this was not a hard decision to make. 

As I do more research on the relationship between individual personalities and moral and ethical decision-making processes, I came across the study “A Behavioral Model of Ethical and Unethical Decision Making” by Michael Bommer, Clarence Gratto, Jerry Gravander, and Mark Tuttle. This study provides valuable insights into how various factors influence ethical decisions in organizational contexts. The model proposed by the authors emphasizes that ethical and unethical decision making is influenced by a combination of individual characteristics, situational factors, and the organizational environment. According to the authors, personality traits such as honesty, empathy, and integrity play a significant role in how individuals approach moral dilemmas. These traits interact with external factors, including organizational culture, peer influence, and the perceived consequences of actions.  

Personality traits are foundational in shaping how individuals perceive and react to ethical challenges. For instance, someone with high levels of empathy, like I consider myself to be, might be more inclined towards making decisions that prioritize the feeling of others. This aligns with my decision to pursue higher education, where I weighed the long-term benefits for myself and my future contributions to society against the immediate financial advantages of full-time work. The situational context also profoundly impacts ethical decision making. During my senior year of high school, the situation involved balancing academic pressures, family expectations, and financial considerations. Bommer et al. argue that such situational factors can either reinforce or undermine ethical behavior. In my case, the supportive environment from my family and mentors encouraged me to pursue college. In organizational settings, culture and norms play a crucial role. Reflecting on my decision through the lens of Bommer et al.’s model, I see that my choice to attend college was influenced by a complex interplay of personal values, situational pressures, and societal norms. The model helps explain how different factors converged to guide me towards a decision that I believed to be ethically sound and beneficial in the long run. 

In addition, our moral choices are a direct reflection of our personality traits and moral upbringing. This means that our decisions are inherently biased by our personal values, beliefs, and the way we have been conditioned to think. In “Making Moral Decisions” by Rowan Williams, Williams write: 

Think about these and choices like them. Each of them – even ‘Which charity shall I support?’ – is a decision that is coloured by the sort of person I am; the choice is not made by a will operating in the abstract, but by someone who is used to thinking and imagining in a certain way: someone who is the sort of person who finds an issue like this an issue of concern. (Another person might not be worried in the same way by the same question.) (Rowan 4)  

This quote encapsulates the essence of Williams’ argument that our moral decisions are reflective of who we are as individuals. Williams also discusses the role of moral imagination in decision-making. He suggests that individuals who can imagine the consequences of their actions on others are more likely to make ethical choices. 

In conclusion, through my exploration of how individual personalities influence morally and ethically driven decision-making processes, I have come to understand the profound impact of personal traits, upbringing, and situational contexts on our choices. Reflecting on my own significant life decisions, such as taking up a job during high school and choosing to pursue higher education, I came to realize that these choices were deeply intertwined with my moral values, emotional responses, and perceived benefits. Individual personalities significantly influence morally and ethically driven decision-making processes across various contexts. Our decisions reflect our moral upbringing, personal values, emotional responses, and the situational contexts we find ourselves in.  

Work Cited: 

Wiss, Johanna et al. “The Influence of Identifiability and Singularity in Moral Decision Making.” Judgment and Decision Making 10.5 (2015): 492–502. Web. 

Williams, Rowan. “Making Moral Decisions.” The Cambridge Companion to Christian Ethics. Ed. Robin Gill. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. 1–15. Print. Cambridge Companions to Religion. 

Bartels, Daniel M. “Principled moral sentiment and the flexibility of moral judgment and decision making.” Cognition 108.2 (2008): 381-417. 

Bommer, Michael, et al. “A Behavioral Model of Ethical and Unethical Decision Making.” Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 6, no. 4, 1987, pp. 265–80. JSTOR, Accessed 18 May 2024. 

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