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Study of the stages of moral development of married couples in an Anglican parish Hodgkinson, Arthur Douglas

Abstract

Using the hierarchy of moral judgement stages developed by Lawrence Kohlberg as a theoretical framework, this study investigated the ways that adults make judgements about moral issues. Specifically examined were differences between the stages of moral development of husbands and wives, older and younger respondents, college and non college educated respondents, church attending and non attending respondents and working and non working women. Respondents were sixteen married couples randomly selected from the parish list of St. Faith's Anglican Church, Vancouver. Data were collected by means of a structured interview, the Kohlberg Moral Dilemma Interview, Form A. A qualitative analysis of data from the interviews was done so that judgements of respondents could be assigned to stages in the hierarchy of moral judgements. Data were further analyzed using the Mann Whitney U. test, Wilcoxon Matched Pairs and Chi square. The majority of respondents were found to be at a conventional stage 3 and 4 level of moral judgement with about one quarter able to use principled forms of judgement. Most respondents used a mixture of stage thinking in the resolution of moral dilemmas. Less than one quarter were consistent from stage to stage. Over all, men and women tended to be at the same stage of moral development but husbands and their non working wives were found to be at different stages. Husbands were at stage 4 and their wives stage 3. There were no differences between men and working women. Working women tended to score higher on a test of moral judgement than non working women. They were also better educated. Neither age nor church attendance were found to be related to stages of moral development. Respondents who had completed college scored higher on a test of moral judgement than respondents who had not completed college.

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