Accounting ethics instruction, like accounting ethics research, has been strongly influenced by the work of Kohlberg and his stages of ethical development. The Defining Issues Test (DIT), which is based on Kohlberg's theory, has been extensively used to assess level of ethical development of both accounting students and accounting practitioners. Theory suggests that the relationship between p‐score on the Defining Issues Test (DIT) and behavior should be linear, i.e., ethical behavior should increase monotonically with level of ethical development. However, Ponemon's (1993a) paper reported a quadratic relationship, meaning that subjects with low scores and those with high scores are more likely to behave unethically. This study replicates Ponemon's (1993a) study. Unobtrusive observation of actual behavior in a laboratory experiment is used to record behavior, which is then related to p‐score on the DIT. The results confirm Ponemon's (1993a) finding of a quadratic relationship. However, in this study, the results appear to be driven by the behavior of male subjects; female subjects show a monotonically decreasing level of ethical behavior as p‐score on the DIT increases.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.