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    Does “Political Bias” in the DIT or DIT-2 Threaten Val...
    research summary posted May 9, 2012 by The Auditing Section, last edited May 25, 2012, tagged 04.0 Independence and Ethics, 04.04 Moral Development and Individual Ethics Decisions 
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    Title:
    Does “Political Bias” in the DIT or DIT-2 Threaten Validity in Studies of CPAs?
    Practical Implications:

    The results of this study are important for understanding the implications of previous studies which have used the Defining Issues Test (DIT) or its later version the DIT-2 to measure the ethical reasoning and moral development of CPAs. The authors note that determining whether there is a true correlation between political orientation and the DIT P score is an intriguing debate that remains unsettled. The authors suggest that political belief should not be ignored and should be considered by researchers and included as a control variable in future studies to prevent misleading results.

    Citation:

    Bailey, C. D., T. J. Phillips and S. B. Scofield. 2005. Does “Political Bias” in the DIT or DIT-2 Threaten Validity in Studies of CPAs? Behavioral Research in Accounting 17 (1): 23-42.

    Keywords:
    DIT, DIT-2, political bias, ethical reasoning, cognitive-developmental perspective
    Purpose of the Study:

    The DIT and the DIT-2 are tests commonly used by researchers to measure individual cognitive moral development or ethical reasoning ability. Individuals taking the DIT are presented with a series of ethical dilemmas and asked to choose the ethical argument which they view to be the most compelling. Individuals are then assigned a P score, which represents their level of ethical reasoning – a higher score indicating a higher level of reasoning. However, the DIT and the DIT-2 have been criticized as being seriously influenced by political belief. The purpose of this study is to examine whether political position explains a significant amount of variation in individuals’ P scores.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The authors collected responses from 741 CPAs taking the short-form DIT in 1995 and 261 taking the DIT-2 in 2001. Participants were also asked to respond to a conservatism scale which measured their political beliefs as either politically “liberal,” “conservative” or “other.”

    Findings:
    • The authors find that political orientation is in fact significantly correlated with the DIT P score and somewhat with the score generated by the DIT-2.
    • However, the authors note that the strength of the relationship between political orientation and P scores is encouragingly small and may mean that the correlation is not a cause for concern for previous research. They do not claim to settle the debate, however, and encourage use of political orientation as a control variable in the future.
    Category:
    Independence & Ethics
    Sub-category:
    Moral Development and Individual Ethics Decisions
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