Social and Leadership Factors Influencing Moral Decision Making in Canadian Military Operations – An Annotated Bibliography

Facteurs sociaux et facteurs de leadership exerçant une incidence sur la prise de décisions morales dans le contexte des opérations militaires canadiennes – Bibliographie commentée


  1. Thomson, M.H.
  2. Hall, C.D.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN);Humansystems Inc, Guelph ONT (CAN)
Military missions for the Canadian Forces (CF), including asymmetrical warfare and counter insurgency operations, have become increasingly complex and, as such, there is a greater probability that soldiers of all ranks will confront moral and ethical decisions. As moral and ethical decision making is both challenging in a military operational context (Thomson, Adams, & Sartori, 2006) and argued to be a social activity (Haidt, 2001), military personnel will undoubtedly look to others, including leaders and peers, for guidance or support to make the right choices. To this end, an annotated bibliography was conducted to highlight probably social and leadership factors that will influence moral and ethical behaviour. A number of social factors were identified, including moral disengagement mechanisms (such as displacement of responsibility, diffusion of responsibility, and dehumanization); ingroup/outgroup differentiation; group identity; group cohesion and loyalty; compliance and conformity; false consensus effect; and normative social influence (or social contagion). Leadership factors included the impact of different kinds of leadership (e.g., transactional, transformative, ethical, etc.), ethical role modelling, and leader-member interaction. This report also included a preliminary data analysis of CF subject matter experts (SMEs) first-hand accounts of moral and ethical decisions made in operations to highlight any social and leadership factors that had an influence on this

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Leadership;social factors;Moral Decision Making;Canadian Military Operations
Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-CR-2011-098 — Contractor Report
Date of publication
01 Mar 2011
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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