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Are You Ethical-Ish? Take This Ethics Quiz And Find Out!

Bruce Weinstein
· Sep 4, 2022
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Are you ethical-ish? That is, how committed are you to doing the right thing? Take this multiple-choice quiz and find out. Keep track of your answers, and tally the points at the end. A key, followed by an analysis of the results, will reveal all.

“I avoid intentionally saying or doing things that are likely to hurt other people.”

  1. All of the time
  2. Most of the time
  3. Some of the time
  4. None of the time

“I take steps to prevent harm to others in every situation I’m in.”

  1. All of the time
  2. Most of the time
  3. Some of the time
  4. None of the time

“I make things better for others and myself throughout the day.”

  1. All of the time
  2. Most of the time
  3. Some of the time
  4. None of the time

“I keep the promises I make and avoid making promises I’m not likely to keep.”

  1. All of the time
  2. Most of the time
  3. Some of the time
  4. None of the time

“I tell the truth every time when it is appropriate to do so.”

  1. All of the time
  2. Most of the time
  3. Some of the time
  4. None of the time

“I keep confidences.”

  1. All of the time
  2. Most of the time
  3. Some of the time
  4. None of the time

“I treat people fairly.”

  1. All of the time
  2. Most of the time
  3. Some of the time
  4. None of the time

“I care.”

  1. All of the time
  2. Most of the time
  3. Some of the time
  4. None of the time

Your score: _________

Add all of the numbers corresponding to the choices you made.

Key

If you scored a perfect 8:

You are a saint, an angel, and a model of human excellence. I also don’t believe you. No one applies the principles of ethical intelligence consistently day in and day out. Thus, you are a liar, and as such, you are none of the virtuous things I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph.

If you scored 9 or 10:

I still don’t believe you. No one is that good.

If you scored between 11 and 24:

You are ethical-ish. Sometimes you step up to the plate and do the right thing. Sometimes you don’t. The lower your score in this bracket, the more likely you are to take the principles of ethical intelligence seriously. Those principles are Do No Harm, Make Things Better, Respect Others (i.e., tell the truth, keep promises, and honor confidentiality), Be Fair and Care.

If you scored between 25 and 32:

Uh oh.

Analysis

It is impossible to act ethically all the time and in every situation. From time to time we all tell unjustifiable lies, break promises we should keep, and reveal confidences inappropriately. Human beings are fallible.

It is a grave mistake, however, to believe that ethics requires perfection in thought and deed. This is an impossible goal.

That fact doesn’t mean it’s okay to disregard ethical principles altogether, or worse, to conclude that they don’t exist. In some respects, the principles Do No Harm, Make Things Better, Respect Others, Be Fair, and Care—the principles of ethical intelligence—are aspirational. Yes, they are principles of duty, but since we all fall short of the mark from time to time, it’s worth keeping these principles front and center to remind us of what human beings are at our best.

Warning!

There are some issues where it’s not okay or cool to be ethical-ish. Murder, fraud, embezzlement—these are some of the major areas where the right response is clear, unambiguous, and yes, universal. (I’m setting aside the legitimate debate about the ethics of war, which requires an article much longer than this one to do it justice.)

It’s unlikely that you’re deliberating right now about ripping off your employer or cheating your insurance company. The fact that you’ve read this far means you’re not the kind of person who is tempted to commit any of these acts. Our discussion is focused on the sorts of issues that you can and do face regularly.

The bottom line

Unless you willfully disregard ethics all or even most of the time, or you’re a saint, you may rightfully be considered ethical-ish. That may not be perfect, but it’s perfectly fine.

The best we can hope for is to say, “I’m doing a good job now, and I can do an even better one tomorrow.” That’s what ethics is all about.

Acknowledgment

Both fairness and friendship call upon me to give credit where credit is due, so thank you Jess Todtfeld for suggesting several years ago that I write about the topic of being “ethical-ish.”

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Thank you for dropping by. I hope you're having a good day.

At your service,

Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D., The Ethics Guy
Forbes Contributor
Ethics Trainer and Speaker

P.S. Take an even cooler ethics test here. Includes video analysis of each answer. You can also sign up for my free weekly emails on ethics and ethical leadership that will enrich your work in accounting, human resources, engineering, and other essential professions. 

P.P.S. Here's my contributor page on LearnFormula / CPD Formula with a description of the courses I offer for CPAs and HR professionals, all of which will earn you one or two continuing education credits in ethics.

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