Moral action decision process: Using multiple constructs to predict adolescents' moral action choices

Anthony Iroh, Fordham University

Abstract

This study looked at the relationship between adolescents' moral action choices and the internal psychological operations that motivate them. It examined specifically, how the three internal psychological operations of moral reasoning, moral beliefs, and moral emotion individually and collectively influence and motivate moral action choices of adolescents, after accounting for their demographic characteristics, perception of school moral culture, and personality. This study also looked at the grouping of individuals based on how these three internal psychological operations relate within persons, and whether the groups differ in relation to moral action choices after accounting for students' demographic characteristics, perception of school moral culture, and personality. Due to lack of measures on, and in contribution to the understanding and measuring of some neglected aspects of the moral action decision process, namely, moral beliefs and moral skills, two new scales were piloted and used in this study: Moral Beliefs Scale (MBS) and Moral Skills Scale (MSS). ^ Three hundred and thirty one high school students, ages 14–18 years old participated in this study, and a total of 272 students were retained. Results showed that (1) adolescents' moral action choices were significantly predicted across different moral action types (altruism, sacrifice and delay of gratification) when the three internal psychological operations were combined and used as a single predictor than when they were used individually, (2) individuals clustered into interpretable groups and differed in relation to moral action choices based on how these three internal psychological operations relate within persons, and (3) the external factor of school moral culture significantly predicted students' self-report of being altruistic, but not their actual observed behavior choices on delay of gratification and sacrifice. This may be due to the temptation of immediate financial gain offered as rewards to them and the financial needs of students. The findings of this study suggest that it makes sense theoretically and empirically to use more than one internal psychological operation to explain adolescents' moral development and specifically, their moral action choices. This study also underscores the need for moral behavior and personality profiling in targeting, designing, and providing moral education to adolescents and for other youth development policies and interventions, and it also shows the important influence of students' immediate moral environment in relation to their moral action choices. ^

Subject Area

Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Religious|Psychology, Developmental

Recommended Citation

Anthony Iroh, "Moral action decision process: Using multiple constructs to predict adolescents' moral action choices" (January 1, 2010). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3438473.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3438473

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