Gender Differences in Ethical Perceptions of Business Practices: A Social Role Theory Perspective.

Publication Title

Journal of Applied Psychology

Publication Date


Document Type





social role theory perspective of gender differences in perceptions of ethical decision making in businesses, meta-analysis


Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Gender and Sexuality | Marketing | Other Business | Philosophy


  1. This study presents a meta-analysis of research on gender differences in perceptions of ethical decision making. Data from more than 20,000 respondents in 66 samples show that women are more likely than men to perceive specific hypothetical business practices as unethical. As suggested by social role theory (A. H. Eagly, 1987), the gender difference observed in precareer (student) samples declines as the work experience of samples increases. Social role theory also accounts for greater gender differences in nonmonetary issues than in monetary issues. T. M. Jones's (1991) issue-contingent model of moral intensity helps explain why gender differences vary across types of behavior. Contrary to expectations, differences are not influenced by the sex of the actor or the target of the behavior and do not depend on whether the behavior involves personal relationships or action vs. inaction. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)