UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The personality features of moral types Newitt, Christopher S.


This study explores the personality features hypothesized to underlie, and differentiate, Kohlberg's moral typology. Kohlberg and colleagues proposed a moral typology, based on Weber's notion of ideal types, to describe the development of autonomous moral reasoning. Kohlberg's typology consists of the heteronomous moral type and the autonomous moral type. The typology is considered a developmental construct; for those individuals who do develop autonomous moral reasoning typically make the transition from heteronomous to autonomous reasoning in adolescence or early adulthood. Autonomous moral reasoning is characterized by an intrinsic moral understanding, balanced perspective-taking, and the fundamental valuing of human rights. Theorists have suggested that Kohlberg's moral typology represents pervasive personality styles. In studying the personality features associated with the moral typology, the intention is to develop a more holistic understanding of moral development and functioning than that offered by strictly rational or affective accounts. In the present study, a range of personality features from across the hierarchical structure of personality was assessed with a sample of 102 undergraduates (25 males, 77 females). Participants in the study completed measures of moral maturity, moral type, the Big-Five personality traits, ego identity status, perceived control, personal strivings, and perspective-taking. The data indicate that the autonomous moral type scored significantly higher than the heteronomous moral type on the measure of moral maturity, perceived personal control, and ego identity status. The results of this study suggest that Kohlberg's moral typology does not represent two pervasive and distinct personality types. However, the results do suggest that the two moral types differ on measures related to the active construction of personal moral meaning, as well as feelings of self-efficacy.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.