A boy and his grandfather: MoralDNA - Love, Logic, Law - How to Be Good at Work

5. The MoralDNA of Love, Logic and Law

The mapping of human morality

At this stage in our LiveBook you may be asking yourself, “What’s Love, (Logic and Law) got to do with It?” – with apologies of course to Tina Turner! The answer is everything …

In Love, Logic and Law we explore three ethical perspectives, which philosophers might describe as the ‘ethic of care’, ‘virtue ethics’ and ‘deontology’.

For those of you who are wondering what’s happened to ‘utilitarianism’ (meaning the greatest happiness for the greatest number) this has been replaced with the ethic of care. The difference between the two is that the ethic of care is grounded in a philosophy that is essential for life, whereas utilitarianism, which some argue is a cold, deterministic calculus that legitimises the “tyranny of the majority”, diminishes the human rights of any minority. It is also arguable that ‘happiness’ is not of itself a meaningful purpose in life, insofar as we need to feel sad to feel happy.

Whilst some may disagree with this evolved ethical classification, if we accept it for now, let me share with you the research that I am conducting with my great friend and professional partner Pavlos Stamboulides, into our ethical preferences

In early 2008 I recognised that it would help people understand how to be good at work and in life, if I could design a psychometric profile that could help us understand our preferences for making ethical choices. I met Pavlos in early 2008 after he was recommended to me as a top psychometrician. We designed, refined and piloted our prototype profiling tool that today is called MoralDNA. With the support of Cass Business School, PWC and The Times, over 20,000 people completed the first version and we published the findings in October 2008.

Back in 2008 we named the tool the “ethicability Test” and we called the three ethical preferences: Social Conscience (Love), Principled Conscience (Logic) and Rule Compliance (Law).

In 2010 we added a further dimension and asked people to complete their profile thinking first about their personal life and then their professional or working lives. In 2017, we now have over 160,000 completed profiles by people in over 200 countries.

“I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves – such an ethical basis I call more proper for a herd of swine.”

Albert Einstein

So, what have we discovered about human morality?

1. Our morality evolves as we mature. Whilst Love is a constant throughout our lives, our preference for Logic increases with age, whilst our preference for Law decreases. Lawrence Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development helps us to understand the shift from Law to Logic. But his student Carol Gilligan argued that Kohlberg hadn’t properly explored the Ethic of Care, and so we measure this as Love.

MoralDNA chart on ethics by age - How to Be Good at Work

2. There are significant differences by gender. Most women prefer Love and most men prefer Law when thinking about the right thing to do. Women also score higher on each of the three ethics suggesting that they are more mindful of the morality of the decisions they make.

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”


MoralDNA chart on love, logic and law - How to Be Good at Work

3. At work, our preference for Law becomes dominant and our Love is diminished. The consequence for many of us is that we become compliant robots, driven by fear rather than love.

“It’s that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second. This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up. Others matter more than you do, so ‘don’t fuss, dear; get on with it.”

Audrey Hepburn

MoralDNA chart on ethics in personal life and work - How to Be Good at Work

As well as your preferences on Love, Logic and Law, your MoralDNA Profile also scores your preferences on ten moral values – the virtues we discussed in Logic.

4. Although many values scores for leaders increase with seniority, those for humility and care, decrease.  Narcissism and coldness in many senior executives might explain why the rest of us work in cultures of fear.

MoralDNA chart on values by leadership hierarchy - How to Be Good at Work

In addition to this research, I have also worked closely with professional service firms like EY and you can read my detailed findings in the global financial services sector in ‘The Challenges of Risk, Culture, Behaviour and Corporate Integrity in Financial Services’ published in 2015.

There’s clearly a lot more research and analysis here, but I hope this gives you a flavour of the food for thought that MoralDNA can offer. Why not try it yourself and create your own profile at www.MoralDNA.org? It’s free for personal use and, whilst giving you insight into your own decision-making, the data is completely anonymised.

If you lead a team or run a business, the insights we can discover about the MoralDNA of teams are profound. But the next question we need to explore is what can we do with this analysis? The answer is two-fold.

First, we can use these insights to improve our decision-making at work.

Second, we can improve the quality of our culture at work.

With both, you won’t be surprised to learn, that for most people it means being less of a compliant robot and more of a caring human being.

In our next section, we will explore how to be good at work by making the right decisions, more of the time.

Psycho Killer Business Woman - MoralDNA - How to Be Good at Work

As well as drawing my own conclusions I read and research many papers, books, articles and essays on how we, as humans, go about our business. Discover a selection and read on within More Good Thinking.