DIFFERENCES IN MORAL ORIENTATION AND CHARACTER TYPE OF MALE AND FEMALE CHARACTERS IN LITERATURE FOR LATENCY-AGE CHILDREN

JUDITH PEARSON, Fordham University

Abstract

The present study examined the moral orientations and character types of 212 male and female characters in 50 works of fiction for latency-age children. Moral orientations and character types were assessed using Lyons' coding schemes for differentiating between Justice and Care moral orientations, and Separate/Objective and Connected self orientations. Coding was done in two stages. Initially, three raters selected incidents from the books showing a character undergoing a moral dilemma, and subdivided these incidents into problem and resolution segments. Next, two different coders classified the moral orientations and character types exhibited by the characters during problem and resolution segments of the dilemmas. It was hypothesized that male characters would demonstrate Justice morality and a Separate/Objective character type, whereas female characters would demonstrate Care morality and a Connected character type, regardless of sex of author.^ Chi-square analyses were conducted to determine the relationships of sex of character and sex of author to moral orientations and character types. Post hoc t tests were then utilized to determine the significance of hypothesized cell differences. The results confirmed the hypotheses. Male characters exhibited Justice morality and a Separate/Objective character type, whereas female characters exhibited Care morality and a Connected character type. In addition, authors shifted moral and self orientations dependent on sex of character. Although all authors stereotyped characters, male authors did so more than did female authors. Female authors, however, showed more stereotypy for self orientation than for moral orientation. Further findings showed that for characters of both sexes, shifts in moral orientation between problem and resolution segments of dilemmas moved from Justice toward Care. The existence of sex-linked morality and character type in children's fiction was seen to have implications for psychologists concerned with children's moral development. ^

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

PEARSON, JUDITH, "DIFFERENCES IN MORAL ORIENTATION AND CHARACTER TYPE OF MALE AND FEMALE CHARACTERS IN LITERATURE FOR LATENCY-AGE CHILDREN" (1986). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8624499.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8624499

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