ABSTRACT REASONING AND TEMPORAL STABILITY IN THE ASSESSMENT OF MORAL JUDGMENT IN RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

ALAN EDWARD HILFER, Fordham University

Abstract

The purpose of this study was (a) to investigate and compare the effects of intense religious training on the moral development of 63 male Yeshiva students and 63 male public school students, (b) to examine stepwise stage sequentiality of the Kohlberg Moral Judgment Interview, (KMJI) in the religious schools, (c) to determine the temporal stability of the KMJI, and (d) to examine the contribution of abstract reasoning to the moral decision making process.^ The aforementioned 126 male students were matched for age, sex, socio-economic status, and intelligence. They were assessed in three age groups of 8 years, 11 years, and 14 years. The effects of an intense religious environment and education, and an increased importance on Jewish Law (halachah) were evaluated through a cross-sectional comparison of the Yeshiva children to their public school age-mates.^ Four hypotheses were postulated. (a) There would be no significant difference between the moral development of the Yeshiva students and public school students. (b) There would be no significant change in the stepwise progression of moral development in a cross-sectional sample of Hasidic Yeshiva students. (c) There would be significant difference in achievement on the KMJI associated with treatments of the subjects. (d) There would be no significant correlation between measures of abstract reasoning and moral judgment.^ The instruments used in the study included the Kohlberg Moral Judgment Interview, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, the Porteus Mazes, the similarities subtest of the WISC-R, and the Hamburger revisions of the Warner Scale. Subjects were given a battery of all tests, and then divided into three groups, a discussion, a placebo, and a control group. All were retested three to four weeks after the initial battery to attain a second KMJI moral maturity score, used in the assessment of temporal stability.^ To determine the effect of religious schooling on moral judgment, three separate one-way analyses of variance were performed. In addition, to ascertain stepwise sequencing a two-way analysis of variance was used in evaluating KMJI scores. To determine the temporal stability of the scale, a two-way repeated measures design for proportional cells was used. Pearson product-moment correlations were obtained for the abstract reasoning scores and the KMJI scores.^ The results indicated that children attending Hasidic Yeshivas scored higher on the KMJI at the 11- and 14-year old age levels. Children at the 8-year old age level showed no significant difference in scoring on the KMJI regardless of school. The findings were attributed to the cumulative effects of the study of Jewish Law and the rigorous religious education the students received. Thus, among the older Yeshiva students there appeared to be an earlier acquisition of moral stages, than with their public school counterparts.^ In examining the stepwise sequentiality of the KMJI in both the Yeshivas and the public schools, it was found that sequential development was in accordance with expectations in a cross-sectional sample. The Yeshiva students, however, had an accelerated rate of acquisition of moral stages.^ Over a short period of time, the KMJI exhibited temporal stability. Limited treatment or intervention did not influence scoring.^ Finally, analysis of the data indicated a correlation between moral judgment and abstract reasoning. It is likely that abstract reasoning skills contribute to moral judgment and development. ^

Subject Area

Psychology

Recommended Citation

HILFER, ALAN EDWARD, "ABSTRACT REASONING AND TEMPORAL STABILITY IN THE ASSESSMENT OF MORAL JUDGMENT IN RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS" (1980). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8020989.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8020989

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