Posted: September 4th, 2022

Informational Blog

 

  • Describe the premise of the study and the cultural implications on ethical decision-making.
  • What were the results of the study?
  • How does culture influence decision-making?
  • Describe the differences in ethical decision-making between 2 groups.
  • What is your opinion on how much culture should or does impact ethical decision-making?

ETHICS & BEHAVIOR, 24(6), 510–522

Copyright © 2014 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

ISSN: 1050-8422 print / 1532-7019 online

DOI: 10.1080/10508422.2014.891075

Influence of Culture on Ethical Decision
Making in Psychology

Ping Zheng and Matt J. Gray
Department of Psychology

University of Wyoming

Wen-Zhen Zhu and Guang-Rong Jiang
Department of Psychology

Central China Normal University
Hubei Provincial Key Laboratory of Human Development and Mental Health

This study focused on the influence of American and Chinese cultures on consequentialism ori-
entation in decision-making within the broader context of psychologists’ academic roles and
responsibilities. In addition, this study hypothesized that educational level would affect cultur-
ally influenced ethical decision making in both cultures. Based on the American Psychological
Association Ethics Code, 20 ethical scenarios in 5 domains in psychology were created and used to
examine the influence of culturally ethical beliefs on psychologists’ decision making among 181 par-
ticipants. The results indicated that significant cultural differences in consequentialism orientation
differentiated Chinese and American participants and influenced their resolution of ethical issues

.

Keywords: American, Chinese, rule consequentialism, state consequentialism, ethics in psychology

  • INTRODUCTION
  • Because it is one of the fastest growing populations in the world and is a collectivistic cul-
    ture, Chinese samples have increasingly been the focus of cross-cultural behavioral research (Li,
    2011). However, the great majority of ethics research bearing on the practice of psychology ha

    s

    been conducted in Western nations, and findings are typically published in English. Thus, we
    know little about how psychologists from non-Western societies might respond to specific ethical
    dilemmas in the practice of psychology (Tang, 2007). Further, there are few published studies on
    how Chinese psychologists make their ethical decisions in clinical practice (Zhao et al., 2011).
    Taken together, these factors speak to the importance of investigating possible differences in
    ethical decision making between Chinese and American psychologists.

    In the domain of moral psychology, dealing with ethical issues during psychologists’ activities
    is central to their scientific, educational, and professional roles. The American Psychological

    Correspondence should be addressed to Ping Zheng, Department of Psychology, University of Wyoming, Department
    3415, 1000 E University Avenue, Laramie, WY 82071. E-mail: pzheng2@uwyo.edu

    Color versions of one or more of the figures in the article can be found online at www.tandfonline.com/hebh.

    mailto:pzheng2@uwyo.edu

    CULTURE AND ETHICAL DECISION MAKING 511

    Association’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (American Psychological
    Association, 2010) provide guidelines for ethical issues encountered in psychologists’ activities in
    the United States. Areas covered include but are not limited to the clinical practice of psychology:
    research, teaching, supervision of trainees, public service, social intervention, program design and
    evaluation, and administration (Campbell, Vasquez, Behnke, & Kinscherff, 2010).

    American ethics and Chinese ethics stem from different historical backgrounds and are derived
    from different philosophies. Consequentialism, the view that morality is all about producing the
    right kinds of overall consequences, is a controversial issue in the area of ethics (Darwall, 2003).
    Rule consequentialism, typically representing major understanding of cause and effect of human
    nature, is popularly accepted among Westerners (Goodman, 2008). Rule consequentialists, like
    John Stuart Mill, argue that following rules can produce the most impartial good (Van Norden,
    2011). Rule consequentialism is the view that it is morally wrong for an agent to do an action if
    and only if that action violates the ideal moral code, where the ideal moral code is the set of rules
    for which internalization would have the best consequences (Kahn, 2012). Rule consequentialism
    is alleged to be operative among American psychologists, who believe that a morally right action
    is one that produces a good and impartial outcome or consequence (Hooker, 2000). For example,
    a psychologist found that one of his colleagues had a private encounter with a current client in a
    hotel and therefore became aware of the fact that there was a sexual relationship between them.
    If this psychologist shows a strong orientation toward rule consequentialism, he would report the
    relationship to a supervisor or licensing board.

    In contrast, traditional Chinese ethical beliefs with their roots in Taoism, Confucianism, and
    Buddhism emphasize the maintenance and propriety of relationships as the most important con-
    sideration in ethical deliberation. Confucians advocated differentiated caring—the doctrine that
    one should care more for and have stronger moral obligations toward friends and relatives than
    strangers (Van Norden, 2011). However, Mohists argue that we should treat our friends and rel-
    atives the same way as we do to strangers. Mohism, seen as a major rival to Confucianism,
    evolved at about the same time as Confucianism in ancient China. No matter how they weigh
    the importance of different human relationships, both Confucians and Mohists consider human
    relationships more important than any other aspect of human life. According to Mohists, evalu-
    ation of the moral worth of an action should be based on how much it contributes to the basic
    goods of a state and the harmony of a group. One of the keys to achieving the basic goods of
    a state is to maintain good human relationships. To be ethical is to do what one’s relationships
    require, because “the basic goods in Mohist consequentialist thinking are . . . order, material
    wealth, and increase in population” (Loewe & Shaughnessy, 1999). The importance of outcomes
    that are good for the state outweighs the importance of individual pleasure and pain. Thus, state
    consequentialism or Mohist consequentialism may be more influential among Chinese psychol-
    ogists because it evaluates the moral worth of an action based on how much it contributes to the
    social harmony of a state (Ivanhoe, 2005). In the context of the previous example, if the psy-
    chologist shows a strong orientation toward state consequentialism, he is unlikely to report his
    colleagues’ violation of the Ethics Code to a supervisor or licensing board. Currently, no empiri-
    cal research has compared or evaluated American and Chinese psychologists with respect to the
    constructs of consequentialism and their impact on ethical decision making.

    Based on these two contrasting variants of cultural and ethical beliefs, it was hypothesized
    that there would be substantive differences between Chinese psychologists and American psy-
    chologists in how they understand ethics and academic integrity within the broader context of

    512 ZHENG ET AL.

    psychologists’ academic roles and responsibilities. This study investigated the influence of ethical
    beliefs resulting from different cultures on psychologists’ ethical decision making.

    Educational level may also impact ethical decision making of individuals. The finding
    that advanced educational level has been found to predict moral development of trainees in
    the area of public health implies that educational level might impact ethical decision mak-
    ing of trainees in the area of public health (Geddes, Salvatori, & Eva, 2009). However, no
    current research has focused on how educational level impacts ethical decision making in
    psychology.

    According to study hypotheses, it was expected that there would be significant differences
    between American psychologists and Chinese psychologists in decisions and rationales for
    20 ethical scenarios.

    H1: American psychologists would be more rule-consequentialism-oriented in their decision-
    making, whereas Chinese psychologists would be more state-consequentialism-oriented
    globally and in each of the five subdomains.

    H2: Participants at the advanced educational level (master’s level and Ph.D.) would show less
    state consequentialism orientation than undergraduates globally and in each of the five
    domains.

    H3: (a) A Culture × Educational Level interaction was predicted with respect to rule
    consequentialism. Specifically, rule consequentialism would increase with educational lev-
    els among American psychologists but decrease as a function of educational level among
    Chinese psychologists. (b) Cultural differences in consequentialism orientation between
    two countries would be significant among participants at the advanced educational level
    (master’s level and Ph.D.) but not among undergraduates.

  • METHOD
  • Design and Participants

    A 2 × 3 factorial design included two cultures (American, Chinese) and three educational lev-
    els (undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D.). One hundred thirty-four Chinese participants (85.1%
    women) and 47 American participants (40.4% women) who provided clinical/counseling ser-
    vices and those who were in training to provide services were recruited for this study.
    Participant ages ranged from 19 to 67 (M = 32, SD = 11.7). All the participants were at
    the undergraduate, the master’s, or the Ph.D. level in the area of clinical/counseling psychol-
    ogy in Central China and Wyoming. Data were collected through the websites from Chinese
    Psychological Association (CPA) and Wyoming Psychological Association (WPA). Chinese
    participants included 38.1% undergraduate, 45.5% master’s-level (37.7% enrolled in training
    programs), and 16.4% doctoral-level individuals (50% enrolled in training programs). American
    participants included 40.4% undergraduate, 25.5% master’s-level (25% enrolled in training
    programs), and 34.0% doctoral-level individuals (18.8% enrolled in training programs). All
    the participants in this study were entered into a drawing for an Amazon.com gift certificate
    for $50.

    CULTURE AND ETHICAL DECISION MAKING 513

    Materials and Procedure

    This study was designed to assess differences in ethical decision making between American
    and Chinese psychologists and trainees. However, because there is no comparable document of
    ethical principles for Chinese psychologists, the researchers used the American Psychological
    Association’s (APA) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (hereinafter
    referred to as the Ethics Code) to create 20 scenarios (in Chinese and English versions) for exam-
    ining the effects of ethical beliefs dominant in American and Chinese culture on psychologists’
    ethical decision making from five prominent domains: resolving ethical issues, confidentiality,
    research and publication, human relations, and therapy (Campbell et al., 2010). These 20 sce-
    narios were used to inquire about decision making for ethical issues that could happen to
    clinical/counseling psychologists in both countries (see the appendix). A 5-point Likert scale
    ranging from 0 (definitely not), 1 (probably not), 2 (unsure), 3 (probably), and 4 (definitely)
    was used to evaluate consequentialism orientation. For example, Scenario 9 states, “One of your
    friends knows that you are a graduate student or a psychologist in clinical psychology. She
    wants you to provide psychotherapy for her uncle. How likely is it that you would accept your
    friend’s request?” If a participant indicates that it is likely that a psychologist will accept this
    friend’s request, the participant shows a stronger tendency toward state consequentialism orien-
    tation; if the participant indicates that it is unlikely that a psychologist will accept the request,
    this participant shows a weaker tendency toward state consequentialism. According to the Ethics
    Code,

    A psychologist refrains from entering into a multiple relationship if the multiple relationship could
    reasonably be expected to impair the psychologist’s objectivity, competence or effectiveness in per-
    forming his or her functions as a psychologist, or otherwise risks exploitation or harm to the person
    with whom the professional relationship exists. (APA, 2010, p. 6)

    Therefore, a person indicating a weaker orientation of state consequentialism is likely to
    score lower on this rating scale, whereas a person indicating a stronger orientation of state
    consequentialism is likely to score higher. Five of the 20 items were phrased and scored in
    reverse: 1, 2, 10, 14, 15, and 16 (see the appendix). The questionnaire in English was translated
    into Chinese by two bilingual researchers through a translation and back-translation procedure.

    The Chinese and American institutions’ Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) both approved the
    present study. The English version of the questionnaire including these 20 scenarios was posted
    on the WPA listserv. At the same time, the Chinese version of the questionnaire was posted on the
    website of the CPA. Participants were asked to indicate the extent to which they would agree with
    the provided solutions for those scenarios using the aforementioned 5-point Likert scale. This
    investigation relied on anonymous completion of online measures. Before completing the online
    survey measures, participants were asked to indicate their consent with an IRB-approved consent
    form and informed of their right to refuse or withdraw their participation at any time. Because
    the survey was administered online, the participants in this study had the option to complete the
    survey at their convenience and at a location of their choice.

    Data Analysis

    Two (culture) × 3 (educational level) factorial analyses of variance (ANOVA) were con-
    ducted using SPSS Statistics 19 software to examine differences in consequentialism orientation

    514 ZHENG ET AL.

    in ethical decision making in Chinese and American participants, as well as differences in
    consequentialism orientation in ethical decision making among psychologists and trainees with
    different educational level in each culture. The effects of culture and educational levels on
    consequentialism orientation were examined overall (i.e., global domain score) and in each spe-
    cific domain (i.e., resolving ethical issues, privacy and confidentiality, research and publication,
    human relations, and therapy and fees).

  • RESULTS
  • The aforementioned two-way ANOVA was conducted to examine the effects of culture and edu-
    cational level on consequentialism orientation across all scenarios. The dependent variable is the
    score on 20 scenarios with higher scores indicating stronger state consequentialism orientation.
    The means and standard deviations for consequentialism orientation as a function of culture and
    educational level are presented in Table 1.

    The results for the two-way ANOVA indicated a significant main effect of culture across
    20 scenarios (Figure 1), F (1, 175) = 20.75, p < .001, d = 1.53. Specifically, Chinese participants (M = 33.16, SD = 6.96) were more state-consequentialism-oriented than American participants (M = 27.85, SD = 6.54). However, there was no significant main effect of educational levels across 20 scenarios. In addition, the results of the two-way ANOVA analysis indicated that there was a significant interaction of culture and educational levels on consequentialism orientation across 20 scenarios, F(1, 175) = 3.094, p < .05, partial η2 = .034. The results of post hoc anal- yses showed that Chinese participants were more state-consequentialism-oriented overall (i.e., across domains) than American participants at the master’s level, t(71) = 4.55, p < .001, d = 1.34, and at the Ph.D. level, t(36) = 2.38, p < .05, d = .79, but not at the undergraduate level.

    In an effort to gain a better understanding of cultural differences in ethical decision making,
    we also examined differences between American and Chinese psychologists’ consequentialism
    orientation with respect to each of the five domains of ethical issues (Figure 2).

    Domain 1: Resolving Ethical Issues

    A significant main effect of culture on consequentialism orientation in decision making was found
    in Domain 1 (resolving ethical issues), F(1, 175) = 40.23, p < .001, d = .91. Specifically, Chinese participants (M = 8.65, SD = 2) were more state-consequentialism-oriented than American par- ticipants (M = 6.48, SD = 2.72). There was also a significant main effect of educational level in this domain, F(2, 175) = 3.43, p < .05. The results of pairwise comparisons indicated that under- graduates (M = 8.42, SD = 2.24) were more state-consequentialism-oriented than masters’-level graduate students (M = 8.01, SD = 2.25, d = .18, p < .05) and than Ph.D.s (M = 7.60, SD = 2.88, d = .31, p < .05). However, there were no differences of consequentialism found between master’s-level graduate students and Ph.D.s.

    In addition, there was a significant interaction between the effect of culture and the effect
    of educational level on consequentialism orientation in Domain 1 (resolving ethical issues),
    F(1, 175) = 4.53, p < .05. The results of post hoc analyses using Tukey Honestly Significant Difference contrasts showed that Chinese participants were more state-consequentialism-oriented in this domain than American participants at the master’s level, t(71) = 4.08, p < .001, d = 1.27, and at the Ph.D. level, t(36) = 4.89, p < .001, d = 1.52, but not at the undergraduate

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    516 ZHENG ET AL.

    FIGURE 1 Cultural effect on consequentialism orientation across 20
    scenarios.
    ∗∗∗ p < .001.

    FIGURE 2 Cultural effect on consequentialism orientation across
    domains of 20 scenarios.
    ∗∗∗ p < .001.

    level. The results of a Post Hoc analyses also indicated that American undergraduates were more
    state-consequentialism-oriented in decision making than American Ph.D.s in this domain (p <

    .05, d = 4.30) but no significant difference of consequentialism orientation was found between
    American master’s-level participants and Ph.D.s. No significant effect of educational level on
    consequentialism orientation in this domain was found among Chinese samples.

    Domain 2: Privacy and Confidentiality

    No significant main effect of culture on differences in consequentialism orientation in ethi-
    cal decision making was found in Domain 2 (privacy and confidentiality). Also, no significant
    main effect of educational level on consequentialism orientation in ethical decision making was
    found in this domain. However, a significant interaction between culture and educational level
    in consequentialism orientation was found in this domain, F(2, 175) = 3.22, p < .05, par- tial η2 = .04. The results of post hoc analyses indicated that Chinese participants were more state-consequentialism-oriented than American participants in this domain at the master’s level,

    CULTURE AND ETHICAL DECISION MAKING 517

    t(71) = 2.47, d = .86, p < .05, but no significant effect of culture on consequentialism orien- tation among undergraduates and Ph.D.s. The results of post hoc analyses also indicated that Chinese master’s-level participants were more state-consequentialism-orientated than Chinese Ph.D.s in this domain (d = .60, p < .05) and that the American undergraduates were more state- consequentialism-oriented than American master’s-level participants in this domain (d = .99, p < .05).

    Domain 3: Human Relations

    No significant main effect for culture on differences in consequentialism orientation in ethical
    decision making was found in the domain of human relations. Also, no significant main effect
    for educational level on consequentialism orientation in ethical decision making was found in
    this domain. In addition, no significant interaction between the effect of culture and the effect of
    educational level in consequentialism orientation was found in this domain.

    Domain 4: Research and Publication

    A significant main effect of culture on difference in consequentialism orientation in ethical deci-
    sion making was found in Domain 4 (research and publication), F(1, 175) = 29.33, d = .90, p
    < .001. Chinese participants (M = 8.31, SD = 2.56) were more state-consequentialism-oriented than American participants (M = 6.21, SD = 2.06) in this domain. In addition, a significant main effect of educational level on consequentialism orientation in ethical decision making was found in this domain, F(2, 175) = 4.72, p < .05. Specifically, the participants at the master’s level (M = 8.38, SD = 2.62) showed stronger state consequentialism orientation than the under- graduates (M = 6.89, SD = 2.62, d =. 57, p < .05) and that the Ph.D.s (M = 8.21, SD = 2.14) showed stronger state consequentialism orientation than the undergraduates (d = .55, p <

    .05). However, no significant difference of consequentialism orientation in this domain was found
    between the master’s-level participants and the Ph.D.s. No significant interaction between culture
    and educational level was found.

    Domain 5: Therapy and Fees

    No significant main effect of culture on consequentialism orientation in ethical decision making
    was found in Domain 5 (therapy and fees). Also, no significant main effect of educational level
    on consequentialism orientation in ethical decision making was found in this domain. In addition,
    no significant interaction between culture and educational level on consequentialism orientation
    was found in this domain.

    Age, Gender, and Years of Practice

    No effect for gender on consequentialism orientation in ethical decision making globally or in
    any single subdomain was found. No correlation was found, globally or in any single subdomain,
    between consequentialism orientation in ethical decision making and age or years of providing
    clinical/counseling services.

    518 ZHENG ET AL.

  • DISCUSSION
  • Findings Regarding Hypothesis 1

    The cultural differences in consequentialism orientation in ethical decision making pertaining
    to psychologists’ scientific, educational, and professional roles found globally and in Domain
    1 (resolving ethical issues) and Domain 4 (research and publication) indicate that American
    psychologists and trainees are more rule-consequentialism-oriented, whereas Chinese psychol-
    ogists and trainees are more state-consequentialism-oriented. These findings provide support for
    Hypothesis 1. Strongly influenced by holistic philosophies, Chinese individuals tend to obey a
    system of social relations rather than a compendium of specific rules (Han, 2013). This system,
    as a part of the whole dynamic of a complex universe, including the mode of social learning,
    cultural rituals, and mode of politics, exerts a great influence on individuals’ decision making.
    In the present study, one explanation for why Chinese psychologists and trainees were less rule-
    consequentialism-oriented in ethical decision making than their American counterparts is that
    Chinese psychologists and trainees were distracted by other factors that are associated with the
    holistic system that is important to most Chinese. In other words, Chinese psychologists and
    trainees may consider more social factors rather than uniform rules in isolation when they make
    their decisions, for example, maintaining social harmony and good human relationships. Another
    explanation for why Chinese psychologists and trainees showed weaker orientation towards rule
    consequentialism is that Chinese psychologists and trainees might have more frequently used
    role-based logic rather than calculation-based approaches to arrive at decisions. Research has
    indicated that the Chinese have been found to prefer role-based logic to assist their decision mak-
    ing due to their greater awareness of and need for relational obligations (Weber, Ames, & Blais,
    2005). Chinese psychologists and trainees may be more likely to inculcate implicit role-related or
    relation-related norms when making a decision (role-based decision making) instead of weighing
    pros and cons according to explicit rules (calculation-based decision making). Another expla-
    nation for the differences in tendency toward rule consequentialism in ethical decision making
    between the two cultures may be related to the degree of rule consequentialism. Absolute rule
    consequentialists argue that all agents are required to act in accordance with a single ideal moral
    code because this ideal moral code has been internalized by all agents. Relative rule consequen-
    tialists argue that some agents are required to act in accordance with one ideal moral code, some
    with another, because not all agents have internalized the same ideal moral code (Kahn, 2012).
    It is arguably the case that rules based on the Ethics Code are less likely to become the single
    ideal moral code for Chinese psychologists and trainees, relative to American psychologists and
    trainees. This explanation requires more evidence from further studies.

    No significant cultural differences in consequentialism orientation in ethical decision mak-
    ing have been found in Domain 2 (privacy and confidentiality), in Domain 3 (human relations),
    and in Domain 5 (therapy and fees). One possibility is that Chinese and American psychol-
    ogists and trainees share some commonalities when making decisions with respect to ethical
    issues in clinical/counseling practice, regardless of general differences in consequentialism ori-
    entation. Possibly, psychologists with different cultural backgrounds may develop consensus on
    certain ethical issues because of the influence of globalization and shared web-based informa-
    tion systems. On the other hand, psychology, as a discipline, was originally introduced to China
    from the Western world (Zhang & Xu, 2006). To some extent, Chinese psychologists have been

    CULTURE AND ETHICAL DECISION MAKING 519

    influenced by the principles or theories of psychology originating from the West, although tra-
    ditional Chinese culture may be more influential on their ethical behavior. This may explain
    why there are some commonalities of consequentialism orientation in ethical decision making
    between the two cultural groups. Another possibility is that there are actual content-based reasons
    for why some scenarios are less relevant or salient in differentiating the cultures with respect to
    consequentialism. The questionnaire method used in this study limited demonstration of the dif-
    ferences of consequentialism orientation between the two cultures that may exist in some ethical
    domains.

    Findings Regarding Hypothesis 2

    Consequentialism orientation in ethical decision making at different educational levels has been
    found to be significantly different in Domain 1 (resolving ethical issues) and in Domain 4
    (research and publication). These findings partially provide evidence supporting Hypothesis 2.

    Significant differences of consequentialism orientation between undergraduates and partici-
    pants at the advanced educational level (the master’s level and the Ph.D. level) have been found
    in the domain of resolving ethical issues and the domain of research and publication regardless
    of cultural effect. The participants at advanced educational level have been found to show weaker
    rule consequentialism orientation in the domain of research and publication but stronger rule
    consequentialism orientation in the domain of resolving ethical issues, relative to the undergrad-
    uates. However, no significant difference has been found between the master’s-level participants
    and the Ph.D.s. One explanation is that master’s-level participants and Ph.D.s have more expe-
    rience with research and publication and have developed more complex human relations related
    to research and publication credit, relative to undergraduates (APA, 2013). Therefore, Ph.D.s
    and the master’s-level participants may be more likely to be influenced by social factors and
    human relationships and more likely to show state consequentialism orientation in the domain
    of research and publication, relative to undergraduates. On the other hand, advanced educational
    levels may be associated with more knowledge and experience in applying the Ethics Code to
    resolving ethical issues relative to undergraduates (APA, 2013). Undergraduates could be more
    likely to be influenced by other social factors and to make decisions by referencing their personal
    experiences and knowledge and more likely to show stronger state consequentialism orientation.

    No significant effects of educational level on differences in consequentialism orientation in
    ethical decision making were found globally or in specific domains. The findings of the present
    study imply that psychologists and trainees at the advanced educational level (the master’s level
    and Ph.D.) and at the basic level of education (undergraduates) are generally similar in making
    decisions related to ethical issues.

    Findings Regarding Interactions Between Culture and Educational Level

    Significant interactions between culture and educational level were found globally as well as in
    the domains of resolving ethical issues and privacy and confidentiality. These findings provide
    partial support for Hypothesis 3.

    Consequentialism orientation was not found to show different patterns of change as a function
    of educational levels between two cultures in global domains or any specific domain. No ten-
    dency of rule consequentialism orientation toward increasing or decreasing with educational

    520 ZHENG ET AL.

    level among psychologists and trainees because of influence of culture. One explanation is that
    although contemporary Chinese educational system in psychology for students at different lev-
    els is somewhat different from American educational system in psychology, the two educational
    systems have much in common, for example, designs of undergraduate and graduate psychology
    programs are very similar between the two educational systems (Niu & Sternberg, 2003).

    However, the findings of the present study support the second part of Hypothesis 3 in the
    domain of resolving ethical issues. Chinese participants have been found to be more state-
    consequentialism-oriented in decision making than American participants at the Ph.D. level
    and at the master’s-level participants but not at the undergraduate level. One explanation for
    that the cultural differences in consequentialism orientation in the domain of resolving ethical
    issues at advanced educational levels may relate to more experience accrued in actual contexts of
    professional and ethical training, relative to undergraduates. The Ph.D.s and master’s-level partic-
    ipants have experienced more situations where difficult ethical and moral issues are resolved with
    implicit consideration of culturally guided norms and with explicit culturally ethical dialogues,
    relative to undergraduates. Therefore, the effect of culture on consequentialism orientation may be
    more apparent among Ph.D.s and master’s-level participants as a result. This explanation requires
    more evidence from further studies however.

    In summary, this study demonstrates that American psychologists tend to be more rule-
    consequentialism-oriented in their decision making, whereas Chinese psychologists would be
    more state-consequentialism-oriented. Accordingly, Chinese psychologists tend to be less bound
    to uniform rules and tend to consider, to a somewhat greater degree, social consequences of
    their decisions. Advanced educational level makes psychologists’ and trainees’ ethical decision
    making more rule-consequentialism-oriented in the domain of resolving ethical issues but more
    state-consequentialism-oriented in the domain of research and publication.

    The present study has provided incremental knowledge for amending culture-competent or
    region-competent psychologists’ training plan pertaining to their scientific, educational, and pro-
    fessional roles. It is important for individuals affiliated with training programs to appreciate
    different worldviews that may have implications for otherwise standard training in professional
    ethics. It is also important for the psychologists’ training plan to include an increase in the
    elements of self-awareness about culture-related psychologist’s consequentialism orientation in
    decision-making regarding ethical issues in clinical/counseling practice. Similarly, those psy-
    chologists working in international contexts or providing services outside their country of origin
    may be puzzled by divergent approaches to resolving ethical dilemmas. Consideration of implicit
    cultural beliefs that may influence ethical deliberations may be critical. Finally, as one exemplar
    of Eastern–Western cultural differences in psychology, consequentialism orientation differences
    may stimulate more conversation and investigation of issues of balancing globalization and
    indigenization in psychology education.

    Limitations

    The present study is not without limitations. First, rule consequentialism and state
    consequentialism are not the only factors guiding ethical decision making. Social norms and
    other cultural factors (e.g., the mode of social learning, cultural rituals, and mode of politics)
    can also influence ethical decision making in both Chinese and American psychologists and
    trainees. Second, the 20 scenarios were created based on the APA Ethics Code. Because the Ethics
    Code was developed by American psychologists, the rules pertaining to ethical issues related to

    CULTURE AND ETHICAL DECISION MAKING 521

    psychologists’ activities have been more accepted and better understood by American psychol-
    ogists and trainees than by Chinese psychologists and trainees. On the other hand, few Chinese
    psychologists and trainees have received Western training about how to deal with ethical issues
    central to psychologists’ role. Therefore, it is reasonable to observe that American psychologists
    showed stronger orientation of rule consequentialism based on American rules than did Chinese
    psychologists and trainees. Third, the sample size of American participants was smaller than
    that of Chinese participants. The uneven sample sizes are likely owing to differences in size of
    memberships of CPA and WPA. Fourth, response to hypothetical, brief ethical scenarios based
    on survey data may not reflect actual clinical practice and decision making in psychology in
    real life. Finally, participants self-selected to participate in the present study and were members
    of psychological associations that subscribed to/read listservs devoted to psychological issues;
    hence their responses in the present study may not generalize to all psychological providers from
    either cultural group.

    Although there are some limitations characterizing the present study, it is the first investi-
    gation focusing on the relationship between cultural differences and ethical decision making in
    clinical/counseling psychology. This study highlights the importance of understanding cultural
    differences in moral psychology and provides practical suggestions on ethical decision making
    in clinical/counseling psychology.

  • ACKNOWLEGMENT
  • We acknowledge the collaboration with Hubei Provincial Key Laboratory of Human
    Development and Mental Health in recruitment of participants.

  • FUNDING
  • This study was supported by the Willits Ethics Independent Research Award.

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    APPENDIX
    Scenarios for Ethical Decision Making

    Domain 1: Resolving ethical issues
    1. Influence of colleague relationship quality on reporting ethical violations
    2. Influence of ethical violations on advancement, admission or promotion decisions
    3. Influence of colleague relationship quality on employment
    4. Influence of therapeutic relationship quality on conflicts between ethical norms and law

    Domain 2: Privacy and confidentiality
    5. Influence of multiple relationships on disclosure of suicidal ideation
    6. Influence of multiple relationships on disclosure of a sexual relationship between teen clients
    7. Influence of a supervisor-subordinate relationship on informed consent
    8. Influence of multiple relationships on disclosure of dishonesty

    Domain 3: Human relations
    9. Tendency toward developing multiple relationships
    10. Tendency toward making referral for a client based on the therapist’s perception of therapeutic relationship
    11. Disclosure of the therapist’s personal contact information to the client
    12. Influence of a supervisor-subordinate relationship on disclosure of session content

    Domain 4: Research and publication
    13. Influence of team relationship quality on violation of withholding the information about debriefing
    14. Tendency toward confronting problems about publication credit
    15. Attitude toward dealing with multiple relationships related to research credit
    16. Influence of relationship quality on reporting violation about deception in research

    Domain 5: Therapy and fees
    17. Influence of therapeutic relationship on acceptance of gifts
    18. Attitude toward bartering with the clients
    19. Attitude toward providing service when the client is unable to pay for it
    20. Influence of relationship quality on psychoeducation for exposure therapy

    Copyright of Ethics & Behavior is the property of Taylor & Francis Ltd and its content may
    not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder’s
    express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
    individual use.

    • ABSTRACT
    • INTRODUCTION

      METHOD

      Design and Participants

      Materials and Procedure

      Data Analysis

      RESULTS

      Domain 1: Resolving Ethical Issues

      Domain 2: Privacy and Confidentiality

      Domain 3: Human Relations

      Domain 4: Research and Publication

      Domain 5: Therapy and Fees

      Age, Gender, and Years of Practice

      DISCUSSION

      Findings Regarding Hypothesis 1

      Findings Regarding Hypothesis 2

      Findings Regarding Interactions Between Culture and Educational Level

      Limitations

      ACKNOWLEGMENT

      FUNDING

      REFERENCES

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