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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Caring for their community : study of moral exemplars in transition to adulthood Matsuba, Michio Kyle


In response to the overemphasis on cognition in understanding the moral domain, this study attempted to draw attention to the contribution personality can make. To do this, people affiliated with health, social and religious organizations were contacted and asked to nominate young adults whom they considered to be moral exemplars. Forty nominated moral exemplars participated in the study, along with forty comparison individuals who were matched to the exemplar group on age, gender, years of education, and ethnicity. Each person was given a battery of questionnaires, as well as participated in a life narrative interview. It was found that, in contrast to the comparison group, moral exemplars possessed a different personality disposition with these individuals rating themselves higher on the trait dimension of Agreeableness. On development-related measures, moral exemplars were found to be more mature in their thinking as reflected in higher scores on Faith Development and Moral Reasoning. As well, moral exemplars were further along in their identity formation as revealed in lower scores on Identity Diffusion. Within the stories regarding their life's high points, more agentic themes were found in those stories coming from moral exemplars. However, when it came to managing their everyday projects, moral exemplars were more disorganized. These diverse findings are discussed in reference to the contributions they make to the formation of a moral identity in the early adult years.

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