Moral and Ethical Decision-Making in a Realistic Field Training Scenario

Prise de Décisions Morales et Éthiques dans un Scénario Réaliste d’Entraînement en Campagne


  1. Thomson, M.H.
  2. Adams, B.D.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN);Humansystems Inc, Guelph ONT (CAN)
This experiment explored moral and ethical judgement and decision-making in an operational context. As part of pre-deployment training at a specific Canadian Forces base, military personnel participate in several realistic training exercises. One such exercise involves a situation that simulates a human rights violation. This is likely to be a highly charged moral situation as trainees must use their negotiation skills to protect the civilians who appear to be being violently abused. This experiment explored the impact of heightening the moral intensity (i.e. the salience and vividness of the moral issue) of this situation by varying the proximity to the female victim. In the high intensity condition, the female victim was scripted to come face-to-face with the team leader, but to remain more than 60 feet away in the baseline moral intensity condition. The entire scenario was videotaped (and later content analyzed) and trainees completed a questionnaire exploring their emotions, attributions of responsibility and perceptions related to the outcome of the scenario. The outcome of the scenario was also analyzed in terms of whether the trainees left the civilians in the hands of the police, watched while the civilians were led into a dense forest by the police, or insisted on following the police and victims as they were escorted to another location. Results showed that heightened levels of moral intensity had important effects on trainee behaviour. Specifically, after coming fa

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Canadian Forces, ethics, moral, decision-making, moral intensity, training
Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-CR-2007-012 — Contractor Report
Date of publication
14 Mar 2007
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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