An investigation of social-interactional variables related to level of moral development among Catholic high school girls



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Two areas of societal concern with regard to the subject of morality and moral judgment are education and crime. However, if the implications arising from the study of moral development theory are to be most effectively applied to programs designed to prevent or remediate problems associated with lack of moral development, the precise role of the various factors that underlie the development of moral reasoning must be clearly understood. A review of recent literature indicated that the cognitive factors related to moral development have been much more extensively studied than have social-interactional factors, despite the fact that cognitive factors are often not amenable-to change and, therefore, not useful for practical application purposes. The major purposes of this study were: (1) to determine the relationship of the following social-interactional variables to level of moral development: religious education, influence of family environment, and socioeconomic status; (2) to discuss implications for inclusion of any social-interactional variables found to be correlated with moral development and also known to be amenable to change in preventive and remedial programs such as in schools, adolescent rehabilitation institutions, and parent education groups. The subjects involved in this study were 100 girls ranging in age from 14 to 19 years who were randomly selected from an all-girl Catholic high school in Houston. All subjects were administered the following instruments: the Ethical Reasoning Inventory, the Moral/Religious Emphasis subscale of the Family Environment Scale, the Hollingshead-Redlich socioeconomic rating scale, and a cover sheet requesting information pertaining to age, grade, race, and number of years of attendance in Catholic schools. Intelligence scores were obtained from an admission test which was given to all students as freshmen. Correlation and multiple regression analysis procedures were computed on the data obtained. Significant correlations were found between moral development and religious education, family influence, intelligence, age, and grade level. The implication of these results for educational programs and counseling strategies were discussed and recommendations for future research were suggested.



Moral development, Moral education