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TitleRelations between moral reasoning, personality traits, and justice-decisions on hypothetical and
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RELATIONS BETWEEN MORAL REASONING,

PERSONALITY TRAITS, AND

JUSTICE-DECISIONS ON HYPOTHETICAL

AND REAL-LIFE MORAL DILEMMAS

Russell W. C. Day

B.A. (HON), University of Victoria, 1987

M.A., University of Guelph, 1989

THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF

THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

in the Department

of

PSYCHOLOGY

ORussell W. C. Day 1997

SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY

July 1997

All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced
in whole or in part, by photocopy or other means,

without the express permission of the author.

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Individual Differences and Justice-Decisions 38

found between KMM and DJMM scores show that moral judgment on Kohlberg's test was

related to the allocation dilemma reasoning, suggesting that participants invoked moral

reasoning on the allocation task. The magnitude of the relation between moral reasoning on

the MJI and moral reasoning on the DRQ is similar to the relations between scores on the

MJI and scores on other types of dilemmas reported and reviewed by Krebs and his

colleagues (Krebs, Vermeulen et al., 1991, Bartek, Krebs, & Taylor, 1993, Carpendale &

Krebs, 1992,1995, Denton & Krebs, 1990).

While the finding that the KMM scores were higher than the DJMM scores is

consistent with Colby and Kohlberg's (1987) contention that the MJI assesses the highest

level of moral capacity, it challenges their "structure of the whole" assumption. Krebs,

Denton et al. (1 991) have argued that the additivelinclusive model (Levine, 1979), which

posits that all stages remain available, can better explain the discrepancy between moral-

reasoning capacity on hypothetical dilemmas and moral reasoning about real-life dilemmas.

Issue 4: KMM and DJMM scores bv eroup. I predicted, but did not find, a specific

pattern of correlations between the KMM and DJMM scores across conditions--from

strongest to weakest correlations--the hypothetical group, the play group, then the real group.

One possible reason for the failure to find the predicted relation is that the distributive justice

dilemma constrained the level of moral reasoning used to justifl the behaviour. Carpendale

and Krebs (1992) and Krebs et al. (1994) have argued that some dilemmas pull strongly for

one or two stages of moral reasoning, leading to a restriction of the variance in the reasoning

scores. The allocation task used here was a simple distributive justice dilemma, based on the

Page 49

Individual Differences and Justice-Decisions 39

issue of equality (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987), which could be interpreted as "strict equality"

(stage 2) or as "equality based on deservingness" (stage 3), thereby pulling for only two

stages, which could have restricted the variance. However, although the allocation dilemma

did pull mainly for stage 2 or stage 2/3 reasoning, the variance in DJMM scores was no

smaller than the variance on Kohlberg's test.

1 Consistent with an economical model, real

consequences--real money as opposed to play or hypothetical money, within the same

research context--induced participants to keep more money and to lower the level of moral

reasoning used to justifjr the decision. However, contrary to expectation, participants in the

hypothetical groups did not have the lowest money kept scores and the highest DJMM

scores, compared to the other groups. These two issues are examined below.

The finding that real consequences affected resource allocation behaviour and justice-

decision reasoning seems, on the face of it, to be consistent with what Carpendale and Krebs

(1995) predicted, but inconsistent with what they found. Carpendale and Krebs predicted

participants would make a selfish decision, but these investigators found that participants

who distributed real resources (money) actually kept for themselves and gave more to

another (i.e., behaved more generously) than participants who distributed hypothetical

money. Consistent with the findings of this study, Carpendale and Krebs found an inverse

relation between money kept and moral reasoning; that is, the participants in their

hypothetical group used significantly lower levels of moral reasoning to justify their

relatively selfish behaviour than participants in the consequential condition used to justifL

Page 96

Individual Differences and Justice-Decisions 86

Table 8

Mean KMM and DJMM Scores bv Sex and Condition

KMM Scores DJMM Scores Difference
Condition

by Sex

HYPO Men 30 313.83 27.96 259.16 33.44 54.67

Women 36 318.00 22.05 301.52 45.83 16.48

Men 32 324.41 39.31 302.84 60.49 21.57
PLAY

Women 35 312.34 28.50 301.89 41.58 10.45

Men 33 315.42 36.28 287.61 48.33 27.81
REAL

Women 35 318.74 32.58 284.60 32.12 34.14

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Individual Differences and Justice-Decisions 87

Step

1

Function

Interpretation of
the situation

Follow-throug h
(moral judgment)

Follow-through
(non-moral skills)

Coanition

Deontic choice

Social perspective-
taking of

moral stage

Judgment of
responsibility
or obligation

Moral substage

(intelligence, attention,

Moral Action

Figure - 1. Kohlberg and Candee's (1 984) Model of the Relation between Moral Judgment

and Moral Action

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