Moral reasoning and action: The effects of sex and gender role orientation

Beth Rachel Kornreich, Fordham University

Abstract

The present study tested a set of hypotheses derived from Gilligan's theory. First, the present study hypothesized that there should be a stronger relationship between moral judgment and behavior for masculine participants. Second, feminine participants should behave more honestly when given care-oriented instructions on a task and masculine participants should behave more honestly when given justice-oriented instructions. Finally, "conflicted" (feminine/high justice morality, masculine/low justice morality) individuals should have longer times of indecision than "non-conflicted" individuals, but these times should decrease when they are given a justice or care orientation to focus on by the experimenter.^ The sample for this study consisted of 199 college students (67 males and 132 females). The DIT and the BSRI were administered to participants who were then solicited to participate in a study on eye-hand coordination. When a participant arrived for the study he or she was given either a justice, care, or no appeal set of instructions. The participant was then led to believe that he or she had erased data in the computer, and was given the opportunity to report the mistake. Each participant received a score based upon when (if ever) they reported. Participants that reported the message were given an open-ended and a close-ended question that questioned their reasons for reporting.^ Sixty-four percent of the participants reported the error message to the experimenter, thirty-five percent reported after being prompted by the experimenter. Feminine and undifferentiated individuals reported significantly more than masculine individuals and androgynous individuals. However, none of the hypotheses received empirical support. It was found that high feminine individuals were more likely to be care oriented than low feminine individuals, and low feminine individuals were more likely to be justice oriented than high feminine individuals. In addition, low masculine individuals were more likely to be care oriented than high masculine individuals.^ Several possibilities were offered for the lack of significant results. In conclusion, it was suggested that although Gilligan's alternative care orientation appears to exist, unlike her expectations, it appears that it exists in both sexes and that women are no less developed in their justice orientations. ^

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Kornreich, Beth Rachel, "Moral reasoning and action: The effects of sex and gender role orientation" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9020014.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9020014

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