Mindfulness in ethical decision-making
: how state and trait mindfulness impact moral judgment and acceptance of unethical behavior

  • Laura Kristina Müller (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Ethical misconduct is often overlooked – not only because of the lack of awareness of ethical issues but also because of people’s inability to free themselves from external influences and biases that lead them to conform. The variety of reasons for accepting unethical behavior warrants an approach that systematically reduces this form of disengagement. The concept of mindfulness has proven to be a powerful tool to debias individuals and help practitioners maintain consciousness of the present experience that is necessary to navigate ethical issues. This thesis aims to explore mindfulness as an instrument to curb unethical behavior throughout the ethical decision-making process, specifically on making a moral judgment and establishing intent to engage in moral behavior. In order to achieve this, I compare the effects of recent state and trait mindfulness through an experimental study. The results demonstrate a significant impact of trait mindfulness on both moral judgment and acceptance of unethical behavior, even when controlling for social desirability. Individuals high in trait mindfulness were more sensitive making moral judgments and less accepting of unethical behavior compared to individuals low in trait mindfulness in two out of four proposed scenarios. Recent state mindfulness was not significant in this study. Nonetheless, this dissertation’s study raises interesting questions about mindfulness interventions and contributes to the literature on the potential positive impacts of mindfulness.
Date of Award30 Jun 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorCristina Soares Pacheco Mendonça (Supervisor)


  • Mindfulness
  • Ethical decision-making process
  • Group pressure
  • Conformity bias
  • Moral disengagement


  • Mestrado em Gestão e Administração de Empresas

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