Modes of Moral Judgment among Early Adolescents

By Perry, Constance M.; McIntire, Walter G. | Adolescence, Fall 1995 | Go to article overview

Modes of Moral Judgment among Early Adolescents


Perry, Constance M., McIntire, Walter G., Adolescence


INTRODUCTION

One of the primary functions of middle schools is to meet the developmental needs of early adolescents. Middle school proponents contend that early adolescence is an important definitional stage in human development during which a person's value system and behavior code is shaped (Levy, 1988). In addition, several reviews of moral development literature suggest that moral reasoning predicts moral action, including honesty, altruistic behavior, resistance to temptation and nondelinquency (Blasi, 1980; Kohlberg, 1984, 1987; Snary, 1985; Thoma, 1986). If one's value system and behavior code, which govern moral reasoning and resultant behavior, are to any great extent shaped during early adolescence, than how early adolescents reason about moral/value questions is of importance.

There is controversy as to the existence and nature of modes of moral reasoning or judgment. Kohlberg (1969, 1981) described six stages of moral development culminating in a focus on justice, using rights and universal principles to make moral/value decisions. Recent research by Gilligan and others (Gilligan, Lyons, & Hanmer, 1989; Gilligan, Ward, & Taylor, 1988) has suggested the existence of an alternative to the justice mode of morality with its emphasis on equality, fairness, and universal principles. The alternative proposed by Gilligan is a mode of care emphasizing responsiveness and interdependence. In listening to women's discussions of moral conflicts, Gilligan (1977, 1982) reported that girls' and women's concerns more often centered on care and response to others than on the rights and universal principles which comprise Kohlberg's higher stages of moral development. She and others have postulated that modern moral psychology's grounding in concepts of justice and rights may overlook this alternative mode.

Evidence from girls attending a private school (Gilligan et al., 1989), a group of educationally advantaged adolescents and adults (Gilligan & Attanucci, 1988), and a sample of 36 people consisting of equal numbers of males and females at specific ages ranging from eight to sixty-plus (Lyons, 1988), suggests that females speak in a predominantly care voice and males in one of justice. Thus, when discussing moral dilemmas, it appears that females more often than males explain their choices by mentioning the importance of caring about others, about relationships, and about relieving the burdens or suffering of others. Although overlap occurs and many females and males use both modes, it appears that males more frequently explain their choices by reasons of fairness, reciprocity (the golden rule) and following standards or principles.

Johnston (1988), in her work using fables as moral dilemmas, found gender differences in moral orientation but also found that the context (which fable) influenced the use of orientation and that males and females were knowledgeable of both orientations. She concluded that the gender differences did not reflect knowledge or understanding of only one orientation but rather a preference for one orientation as a solution to a moral dilemma. She postulated that assumptions about relationships are different for male and female adolescents. Males first try to solve problems by rights and rules unless the possibility of a continuing relationship exists beyond the dilemma. Females use both justice and care modes but more often start by attending to specific needs and, if that seems unworkable, resort to rules. Johnston (1988) also found that boys use the moral orientation of care much less often than girls use the moral of justice. Girls appear more flexible in their use of the two modes perhaps because they learn the culturally valued dominant voice (justice), but also may choose to represent another voice, that of care.

METHOD

The following questions were examined: (1) Is the two modes of moral judgment model verified in an early adolescent sample? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Modes of Moral Judgment among Early Adolescents
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.