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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Naturalistic conceptions of moral maturity Pitts, Russell C.


By examining folk conceptions of moral maturity, this project sought a more comprehensive understanding of moral excellence than Kohlberg's emphasis on principled justice reasoning. Study 1 and 2 involved different samples of 120 adults (17- 25, 35-55, and 65+ years). Study 3 involved a sample of 180 undergraduates. In Study 1, a free-listing procedure was used to generate the attributes of a "highly moral person," as well as those for two related person-concepts. In Study 2, a rating procedure for these attributes was used to generate a prototype of a highly moral person. In Study 3, a similarity-sorting task was used to uncover laypeople's implicit typology of moral maturity. The findings suggest that naturalistic notions of moral excellence not only contain themes of principled reasoning, but also reference aspects of moral character and virtue that enlarge our understanding of the psychological functioning of the mature moral agent.

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