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    Revitalizing Accounting Ethics Research in the...
    research summary posted May 7, 2012 by The Auditing Section, last edited May 25, 2012, tagged 04.0 Independence and Ethics, 04.04 Moral Development and Individual Ethics Decisions 
    Revitalizing Accounting Ethics Research in the Neo-Kohlbergian Framework: Putting the DIT into Perspective
    Practical Implications:

    The findings of this paper are of importance for firms that are interested in accountants’ ethical and moral judgment. This paper provides a thorough and broad review on the usefulness of the Defining Issues Test (DIT). In addition, the authors propose a theoretical framework for research using the DIT. The authors suggest that ethical research should consider more components of ethical issues, such as moral sensitivity, moral judgment, moral motivation, and moral character. These findings and suggestions can help accounting firms in improving the ethical performance of accountants.


    Bailey, C. D., I. Scott, and S. J. Thoma.  2010.  Revitalizing Accounting Ethics Research in the Neo-Kohlbergian Framework: Putting the DIT into Perspective. Behavioral Research in Accounting 22 (2): 1-26.

    Ethical judgment; ethical behavior; defining issues test; Kohlberg; Rest’s Four-Component Model
    Purpose of the Study:

    The Defining Issues Test of moral judgment (DIT and DIT-2) has been widely used in the ethics-related research in accounting and auditing in the past. Yet recently, some of the pioneers and influential thinkers in accounting ethics research feel that the DIT has outlived its usefulness or has been proven to be flawed as a measure of the ethical judgment of accounting professionals. Since there is considerable disagreement over the status and future of research using DIT as a measure of ethical judgment, the primary purpose of this study is to provide a thorough and broad review of the DIT-related accounting ethics research.

    • Neo-Kohlbergian theory  suggests that moral judgment develops through a series of stages, beginning with self-interest (pre-conventional), proceeding through a respect for society’s conventions and laws (conventional), and ultimately, in some people, developing to the highest level of postconventional (principled) reasoning.  
    • The DIT has been used to assess the moral development in professional schools. While Neo-Kohlbergian theory and the DIT is widely accepted, there are controversies associated with the theories.
    • The authors present a “Framework for research using the DIT”, as a way to organize research under the Neo-Kohlbergian theory.
    Independence & Ethics
    Moral Development and Individual Ethics Decisions
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