Measure of Ethical Viewpoints


The Measure of Ethical Viewpoints (MEY) was developed by Brady and Wheeler (1996). It describes an employee’s focus in making ethical judg­ ments as either utilitarian or formal. People using a utilitarian approach are outcome oriented and tend to assess actions in terms of their consequences for people. A utilitarian approach defines ethical nature of actions in terms of the extent to which the actions create the greatest net social good. People using a formal approach tend to assess situations in light of their conformity with established rules or norms. A formal approach defines the ethical nature of actions in terms of the extent to which the action is consistent with rules or laws (Brady & Wheeler, 1996).

The measure uses two approaches to assess the extent of utilitarianism and formalism in a respondent’s ethical viewpoint. The first approach is based on the responses to 28 items associated with seven vignettes. For each vignette, two choices represent a utilitarian solution and rationale and two choices represent a formal solution and rationale. Respondents are asked to rate each of the 28 items in terms of the degree of similarity to their way of thinking. The second approach to measuring utilitarianism and formalism requires respondents to rate the importance of 13 character traits.


Test-retest reliability for the responses to the vignette items averaged .70 across seven vignettes. Test-retest reliability of the trait ratings was .77 (Brady & Wheeler, 1996). Coefficient alpha values for utilitarianism based on both vignette and trait ratings ranged from .85 to .86. Coefficient alpha values for formalism ranged from .74 to .75 (Brady & Wheeler, 1996; Schminke, Ambrose, & Noel, 1997).


Utilitarianism based on trait ratings correlated positively with formalism and correlated negatively with perceived procedural and distributive justice. Formalism correlated positively with utilitarianism and correlated nega­ tively with perceived procedural and distributive justice (Schminke et al., 1997).


Brady, F. N., & Wheeler, G. E. (1996). An empirical study of ethical predis­ positions. Journal of Business Ethics, 15, 927-940. Items were taken from Appendix A, pp. 938-939. © Kluwer Academic Publishers. Reprinted with permission.


Responses are obtained using a 7-pointLikert-type scale where 1 = not at all like my way of thinking and 7 = very much like my way of thinking.

Part 1: Vignettes

Below are several vignettes representing common ethical dilemmas or is­ sues. Following each vignette is a set of four statements, each of which rep­ resents a different way of thinking about the situation. Please rate each state­ ment on a scale of 1 to 7 indicating the extent to which it would fit your way of thinking about the situation.

  1. In front of the cafeteria on a major university campus is a busy two-lane road with a cross walk and a traffic There is no intersection, but the light can be controlled by a pedestrian button an each sidewalk. When there is little traffic, a person could either press the button and wait for the light or just walk across without the light …
    1. No harm is done just go ahead; it’s inconvenient to wait when there is little or no traffic
    2. In these matters one ought to be reasonable, not extreme; one ought to obey the spirit rather than the letter of the law
    3. It’s better to be safe than sorry
    4. One should obey all traffic laws
  1. You are the instructor of an evening class which meets every Wednesday night. One part of the course is a library tour, in which you acquaint the students with various materials and sources for Unfortunately, you have just received a memo from the library director notifying you that the tour must be conducted on the following Thursday night. When you take the proposed change to the students, all are still very interested in going on the new date except for two students who are unable to attend. Both have previous commitments, but it would be valuable for all to attend. The tour has always been part of the course …
    1. The class would be better off if a majority went on the tour than if none did
    2. The tour is in the course syllabus; you should do all you can to fulfill listed course assignments
    3. You can probably find other ways to help the students learn about the library
    4. Not even one student should be treated unfairly
  1. Many people think that abortions should be allowed; others think they should be largely be prohibited …
    1. Thousands of children are born into homes where they are unwanted and where they add to existing financial and emotional problems
    2. It’s the right of a woman to choose what she will do with her own body
  1. Often, women who have abortions feel guilt and remorse; it’s better to bear the child and allow for its adoption
  2. Aborting a fetus is equivalent to (or very close to) the taking of a human life
  3. You are a sales  representative for  an  electronics  manufacturing You have scheduled a dinner with a very important client for tomorrow and would very  much like to impress  him. A good friend of yours is a member of an exclusive country club near town. You could really impress  your client if  you  took  him to dinner at the club. You consider asking your friend to loan you his membership card …
    1. The product you are selling is good, and everyone would win if the deal goes through
    2. Friends ought to help each other
    3. You might be discovered and lose the client
    4. People should never ask friends to be dishonest
  1. One of your employees has accidentally come across a copy of your chief competitor’s product price changes for next The booklet is on your desk in a manila envelope …
    1. The price will give you a temporary advantage over your competitor
    2. You owe it to your company and employees to use all legally obtained information to its best advantage
    3. You may need your competitor’s cooperation on a couple of joint projects in the You should not jeopardize that relationship now
    4. Using the information would be basically unfair and dishonest
  1. You are middle-aged and have been out of work for nearly two You need a job to support your family, and you have just been notified that you have a promising interview in three days with a company for which you would very much like to work. Unfortunately, you are well aware that youth is favored in today’s job market and you are afraid that your age might work against you. So, you are thinking of dying your hair to get rid of some of the gray and temporarily reporting your age as several years younger than your true age. After all, you are vigorous, healthy, and highly competent, and you have often been told you look young for your age …
    1. You need the job to support your family, and you would be good for the company
    2. Employers should be concerned only with how well an employee can do the job
  1. Deception is risky; you can get into serious trouble if it is discovered
  2. One should always be honest
  3. You work for a state auditor’s office which has a policy against accepting gifts from anyone with whom the state may have Your birthday is in one week, and a very good friend of your father’s has just dropped by with a pair of fine leather gloves and a birthday card. This person also works for a construction company firm which has built city facilities in the past …
    1. Both the person and your father might be upset if you do not accept the gift
    2. One should respect another’s good intentions
    3. The general welfare of the public is best served if you and other state employees remain independent of outside influences
    4. Employees have an obligation to follow state policy

Part 2: Traits

Responses are obtained on a 7-point Likert-type scale where I= not impor­ tant to me and 7 = very important to me.

Utilitarian traits:

  1. Innovative
  2. Resourceful
  3. Effective
  4. Influential
  5. Results oriented
  6. Productive
  7. A winner

Formal traits:

  1. Principled
  2. Dependable
  3. Trustworthy
  4. Honest
  5. Noted for integrity
  6. Law-abiding

This content is licensed under a CC-BY license. The CC-BY licenses grant rights of use the scales in your studies (the measurement instrument and its documentation), but do not replace copyright. This remains with the copyright holder, and you have to cite us as the source.

Mohammed Looti, PSYCHOLOGICAL SCALES (2023) Measure of Ethical Viewpoints. Retrieved from DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.31575.96163