top of page

Answers and Explanations to Ethics IQ test:

1.      A=1; B=2; C=3


You would want the customer to return the $20 to you if the shoe was on the other foot. Keeping the $20 is stealing. Giving the money to the cashier doesn’t ensure it gets back to the customer. Ethical decision-making sometimes requires us to make sacrifices to do the right thing. It seems your boss would understand why you were late and, therefore, your actions wouldn’t be disappointing. In answer (C) you intend to do the right thing and act on it.


2.      A= 2; B=1; C=3


Using the posted material to study for the exam is no different than using a stolen copy of the exam to prepare. It is cheating and if you inform the other group members, you have brought them into the scheme. One thing to consider is what if you use the posting, don’t inform the group members, and then someone in the group finds out later that you had the questions. You need to consider the possible consequences of your intended action on yourself and the group members. Ignoring the posting removes you and others from any responsibility for using improperly posted material.


3.      A=2; B=1; C=3


Some students will say that the best answer is “A.” However, confiding in her that the cheating is going on would be based on an uncorroborated statement. It hasn’t been verified or known by direct observation or actual information. Just because a “reliable” source told you doesn’t make it true. Like a good auditor, further evidence is needed to come to a conclusion about your friend’s behavior. Denying you know anything about it is a lie by omission. 

4.      A=1; B=3; C=3


Both “B” and “C” answers are the best. Sexual harassment occurs when unwanted behavior is severe enough to affect one’s work environment. In most cases, sexual harassment is a pattern of unwanted behavior. Given that the behavior is constant and regular, it’s probably safe to say it is sexual harassment. Ignoring it until you get the promotion doesn’t make the problem go away and your boss may even exhibit more aggressive behavior towards you now that he’s done something nice for you. Moreover, it is an act that might lead us to believe the end justifies the means, an approach to ethical decision-making often criticized. In other words, the end of getting the promotion dictates waiting to disclose the harassment until you get the promotion. What happens next? Now you’re working for someone who harassed you and may engage in even more offensive behavior since you reported the harassment after the fact. This approach appears to be a selfish one. You can speak to your boss first, before going to HR, but both approaches are acceptable. It might depend on what the employee guide provides for in sexual harassment cases. Going to the HR Department is the proper step if you are going to lodge a formal complaint of harassment, but HR may ask if you first informed your boss.


5.      A=1; B=3; C=2

Expect different answers here. This is the most difficult question in the test because it pits doing what is legal (answer B) with what might be viewed as ethical – compassionate use (answer A). The best answer is “B” because crossing state lines is illegal and following the law is an integral part of being an ethical person. The “safe” answer is to tell your friend he can legally get marijuana in a neighboring state if he moves there. In this case, no one violates the law and your friend’s illness and pain can be alleviated. However, it may not be practical to move to another state and seek treatment from a new doctor. Also, you may have to explain first why you can’t buy the marijuana for your friend. Moreover, if your friend can’t move because of health or other reasons, it comes down to whether you believe the benefits of helping your friend are greater than the costs of violating the law. In other words, it’s important to consider the consequences of your actions before deciding what to do.  Some students might answer “A” and rationalize it by saying “but what if I don’t get caught.” Ethical standards should be the same for each person in common situations and not based on what one decides is best for them or ethical relativism.

6.      A=1; B=2; C=3


Asking employees to repay personal expenses is the common way to deal with such situations. If for some reason the employee can’t reimburse the company, albeit unlikely, then the amount of the massage charge can be deducted from the employee’s next paycheck. The company might also consider cancelling the employee’s business card. Explaining that you know it was a personal expense is accepting responsibility for your actions but doesn’t relieve you of the responsibility to reimburse the company. Trying to excuse a mistake by blaming a long flight begs the question that it’s still a misuse of the card, therefore, company resources.


7.      A=3; B=1; C=2


An employee does not have an ethical right to download proprietary information even if he or she worked on that information. Proprietary information belongs to the employer and should not be downloaded and taken when leaving a job. It’s illegal to do so, although exceptions may exist on a state-by-state basis in specific instances but clearly not R&D projects. Asking one’s employer permission may sound like a proper thing to do but it may raise questions in your (former) employer’s mind and that might lead to a negative recommendation when you apply for a new job. Your best course of action is to walk away with your head held high – take the ethical high road even if you believe the firing was wrongful.


8.     A=1; B=3; C=2

Since you believe the mistake was an honest one and your team hasn’t yet met with the supervisor, it makes sense to give your friend a chance to fix the mistake. Reporting it without giving an opportunity to correct it is not a good way to work with colleagues. Providing an opportunity to fix the mistake is a way to emphasize the team nature of work in today’s business world. We could view this situation as work in progress. If it was too late to be corrected then it’s best to tell your friend to report the mistake as soon as possible. This enhances trustworthiness on the part of the supervisor – i.e., full disclosure, transparency.


9.      A=3; B=2; C=1


It’s possible that the pictures were taken on another day but posted the sick day so it’s best to speak to the employee about the incident. Firing the employee seems hasty and unfair and might lead to legal action. Ignoring the matter prevents you from using this specific incident as a “teachable moment.” Other employees may come to believe it’s OK to misuse sick days. However, you can use this situation in a generic way to set workplace standards.


10.  A=1; B=2; C=3


The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that critical comments about an employer are protected conduct when it involves concerted activity. If the comment was an isolated statement made by one employee, then it would qualify as a “personal gripe,” which is not protected. Given that other employees commented on your post agreeing/disagreeing with you, this constitutes concerted action. It’s best to meet with the employee(s) to address the issues and reach an understanding how to improve working conditions. Firing the employee for expressing his/her point of view is not likely to go over well with the other employees, even though it’s an at will state. Ignoring the comments is bad for morale and might lead to more criticism down the road.




10-16: You consistently look for the easy way out, or you consider your needs and desires ahead of others. You need to consider what’s right and wrong and not use a relativistic/situational approach to ethics that lets you decide what to do based on what you want to do.


17-24: Sometimes you take the high road, and sometimes you don’t. You are not consistently considering the consequences of your actions. Being ethical requires a long-term commitment to do the right thing, even if it means taking an action that you think harms you in the short run.


25-30: Congratulations! You not only know what the right thing to do is, you consistently do it even when pressured by others to deviate from your ethical values.

bottom of page