The Regulatory Function of Empathy, Shame and Guilt Proneness in Moral Judgement in Organizational Life


  • Dan Florin STĂNESCU National University of Political Studies and Public Administration


Moral judgment and moral dilemmas are a pervasive part of organizational life and every decision-maker can and will encounter them at some point. Whether people make the utilitarian decision (preferring to maximize overall welfare) or the deontological one (choosing to adhere to moral rules), depends both on the contextual aspects, as well as on individual traits such as empathy and so-called moral emotions - guilt and shame.  This paper aims to study the differences between the utilitarian and the deontologists employees in relation with empathy, guilt and shame proneness. In order to discriminate the two categories (utilitarian and deontologist), the well-established “Trolley problem” was used. In the Switch version, the task can be accomplished by using a lever to switch the train track, such that the train only kills one person. On the other hand, in the Footbridge version, pushing a very fat man off a bridge, using his body to stop the train, can save the five. The following questionnaires were used on a sample of 61 participants (47 females and 14 males, aged between M=20,88, AS=1,81): Interpersonal Reactivity Index, and The Guilt and Shame Proneness scale. Results showed a significant difference between the utilitarian and deontologist on the fantasy and empathic-concern scales for the Switch version. However, no significant differences were observed for guilt or shame proneness. As for the Bridge version, the differences were identified only on the empathic-concern scale and on the Guilt‐Negative‐Behavior‐Evaluation scale of GASP

Author Biography

Dan Florin STĂNESCU, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration

associate professorhead of communication department 


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How to Cite

STĂNESCU, D. F. (2018). The Regulatory Function of Empathy, Shame and Guilt Proneness in Moral Judgement in Organizational Life. Management Dynamics in the Knowledge Economy, 6(4), 569–578. Retrieved from