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Forsyth, D. R. (1980). A taxonomy of ethical ideologies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39(1), 175–184.


Four distinct ethical perspectives are discussed: (a) situationism, which advocates a contextual analysis of morally questionable actions; (b) absolutism, which uses inviolate, universal moral principles to formulate moral judgments; (c) subjectivism, which argues that moral judgments should depend primarily on one´s own personal values; and (d) exceptionism, which admits that exceptions must sometimes be made to moral absolutes. The Ethics Positions Questionnaire (EPQ), which assesses degree of idealism and rejection of universal moral rules in favour of relativism, was developed to measure the extent to which individuals adopt one of these four ethical ideologies. The two scales that make up the EPQ were found to have adequate internal consistency, were reliable over time, were not correlated with social desirability, and were not related to scores on the Defining Issues Test. The relativism scale did correlate with scores on Hogan´s Survey of Ethical Attitudes. When the scales were predictions concerning differences in each ideology´s moral judgment process were supported.