An analysis of principled moral judgement among college students with different ego identity statuses

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between two constructs: principled moral judgment and ego identity status. At issue was whether individuals measured to have different ego identity statuses differed systematically in terms of principled moral judgment as had been previously found in the literature. The hypotheses that were tested were a) the use of principled moral judgment is different among individuals having different ego identity statuses, and b) high ego identity individuals are higher in principled moral judgment than low identity individuals. Research regarding gender differences in moral development during the past decade warranted the further study of these two constructs, particularly because earlier research had formed the basis of existing theory. Principled moral judgment was measured by the Defining Issues Test (Rest, 1979), and ego identity status was measured by the Revised Extended Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status (Bennion & Adams, 1986). Analysis of variance was used to analyze the data.

The sample was drawn from a population of residential senior-status men and women at a small, four-year public college in the southeastern United States. Instruments were distributed and collected in the residence halls through the efforts of a peer student group over a three and one-half week period.

The findings revealed that there were no differences in principled moral judgment among individuals having different ego identity statuses. There were no differences in principled moral judgment between men and women with different ego identity statuses. High ego identity individuals did not have higher principled moral judgment scores than low ego identity individuals.