Moral imagination is a must for workers who wish to overcome the stigmas of ethical conflicts.
According to the study carried out at the Universidad Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M), there are some jobs ("dirty work", in Anglo-Saxon terminology) that, because of their characteristics, produce a certain amount of social rejection towards the people who perform them, due to the fact that they are subjected to moral conflicts and ethical decisions related to performing those duties.
"Paradoxically, these occupations are very necessary from a social perspective, as in the case of a police officer who hesitates before using force at a given moment, or an aide working with psychiatric patients who faces the dilemma of whether or not to use drugs with the patients, for example," Esther Roca Batllori, the study leader, said.
Batllori is doing research on how to help these "dirty workers" overcome the stigmas associated with their professions that make it more difficult for them to carry out their duties - these workers often feel a lack of motivation, which results in a high rate of absenteeism and staff turnover.
The article proposes that one of the keys to solving this situation lies in "moral imagination".
In general terms, this is defined as an ability that allows the individuals to make better decisions in contexts and situations characterized by conflicts that are moral in nature.
"Moral imagination turns out to be a great help when one is facing these morally ambiguous decision-making processes, because it offers greater moral perception, critical capacity and individual moral conscience," she said.
"This greater consciousness that the moral imagination provides - she continues - in turn, makes overcoming the social stigma easier," she added.
The study has been recently published in the Journal of Business Ethics.