A Comparison of Advertising and Public Relations Students on Ethics: Attitudes and Predicted Behavior


  • Jami A. Fullerton Oklahoma State University
  • Lori McKinnon Oklahoma State University
  • Alice Kendrick Temerlin Advertising Institute Southern Methodist University




A comparison of attitudes between advertising students and those studying public relations revealed many similarities and some notable differences in their views about professional ethics. Both groups agreed that it was very important to work for an ethical employer, though they both also echoed public sentiment that not all advertising or public relations organizations practice high ethics. Public relations students believed more strongly in the ethicality of their profession. When faced with descriptions of six ethical workplace dilemmas, both advertising and PR students exhibited basic balance or symmetry in their reactions, rejecting five questionable behaviors as unethical and predicting they would be unlikely to partake in such activity. A scenario involving the use of environmental claims for an environmentally embattled client was embraced more by public relations students than by those studying advertising. Implications for educators and communications curricula are discussed.


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