The relationship of moral reasoning to moral action in inner city high school students

Howard Rothstein, Fordham University


The focus of this study was the relationship between moral reasoning and moral action in inner city high school students. One hundred and seventy-five students (101 program group and 74 comparison group) attending Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx were given Moral Judgment Interviews. These students also participated in a moral judgment-moral action experiment, in which they were given two dollars to fill out and mail back an envelope of measures. Analysis of the data showed that when using the Weighted Average Score (WAS) students' who showed no change in their moral stage scores were more likely not to mail back the envelopes than those students who demonstrated change on their moral stage scores over one year. There was a relationship between higher moral stage score and reported positive school related attitudes. Students who were members of the program group had more positive mean scores on the measures than their comparison group counterparts. When students were divided into two groups, those with high and those with low moral stage scores, no difference was found on the rate of mailing back the envelopes. Moreover, students in the program group did not demonstrate a greater relationship between mailing back the envelopes and their Moral Judgment Interview (MJI) stage scores than the comparison group students. Results suggest support for Blatt and Kohlberg's (1975) finding that individuals will increase in moral reasoning if they are systematically exposed to moral reasoning one stage above their own. The results of this study also suggest some support for the theories of the Just Community approach to moral education. The program group students did demonstrate an increase in their moral stage scores, while the comparison group students did not. The Just Community students reported some more positive feelings of trust and community spirit than the comparison group students. No differences were found between students with higher moral stage scores and those with lower moral stage scores and whether they mailed back the envelopes. Therefore, findings of the moral judgment-moral action component of this study do not support the results of the Krebs and Rosenwald study (1977). (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Academic guidance counseling

Recommended Citation

Rothstein, Howard, "The relationship of moral reasoning to moral action in inner city high school students" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9416676.