Moral reasoning and truancy in early adolescence

Caroline Maclaine Guzman, Fordham University

Abstract

The relative contributions of stage of moral reasoning (Kohlberg, 1981, 1984), moral, personal, and social conventional domain judgments (Turiel, 1983), and impulsivity in predicting self-reported truancy and school nonattendance among two-hundred six predominantly Hispanic students attending a public middle school in New York City were determined in this study. A tendency to view truancy as a moral issue was associated with a higher level of moral reasoning and decreased truancy. A tendency to view truancy as a personal or social conventional issue was associated with a lower level of moral reasoning and increased truancy. A higher stage of moral reasoning was associated with a greater degree of consistency between judgment and envisioned action in response to moral dilemmas. ^ Grade, number of siblings, ethnicity, participant's country of birth, father's country of birth, social conventional domain judgments, and impulsivity were found to predict truancy in the analyses conducted. Family structure was not found to predict truancy. Grade, number of siblings, social conventional domain judgments, and impulsivity were positively associated with truancy. Latino students reported more truancy than Black students, and students born in the Dominican Republic reported more truancy than students born in the United States. Students with fathers born in the Dominican Republic reported less truancy than students with fathers born in the United States. Several possible explanations for these findings are provided. ^ Personal domain judgments and stage of moral reasoning were both found to moderate the influence of impulsivity on truancy rate. A tendency to view truancy as a personal issue led to greater increases in rate of truancy as impulsivity increased. At a conventional level of moral reasoning, truancy rate did not vary with level of impulsivity, whereas at a preconventional level of moral reasoning rate of truancy increased as impulsivity increased. Results suggest that a conventional level of moral reasoning may be a protective factor for children, inhibiting their tendency to engage in impulsive and delinquent behavior. The authors make the recommendation that schools should focus more on fostering the social-cognitive development of students in an effort to prevent children from developing behavioral problems in the school setting. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Developmental|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Caroline Maclaine Guzman, "Moral reasoning and truancy in early adolescence" (January 1, 2007). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3255048.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3255048

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