The Moral Psychology and Exemplarism of Leaders in Advertising

Erin Schauster, Patrick Plaisance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Moral exemplars, individuals admired for their moral goodness, are invaluable resources for education and in practice, especially for practices fraught with ethical challenges such as advertising. The current study is the first to examine the moral psychology profile of advertising executives with a range of strategic communication experience as chief executive officers at regional, national, and international agencies and chief marketing officers for national and international brands. The findings indicate that these executives embrace challenges that encourage ideological and character development, believe in values of empathy and compassion, and engage in higher-order moral reasoning more so than advertising practitioners in general but comparable to other media exemplars. They often apply moral rules and standards equally to everyone when considering their response to an ethical dilemma, and their idealistic thinking is positively correlated with perceptions that their organizations have benevolent and principled ethical climates. These findings give strategic communication practitioners, educators, and ethicists a road map of what to look for in individuals likely to serve in the capacity of moral leadership for others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-394
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Strategic Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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