Question 2
Dianna, a mother of 3 children, comes to you with concerns about the moral development of her children. Her first child, Jamie, male age 15, is “so self-centered” and seems not to be too concerned about “doing what is right”. Mom is concerned that Jamie will never learn to do good in the world, and she strongly feels like it is too late to teach him. “How do you teach someone to do the right thing at this point?” she asks prophetically. In comparing Jamie to her other two children, Dianna, reports that her youngest daughter, Erica, age 8, seems to care so much about other people. She is always making cards, demonstrating empathy, and trying to help others. Dianna’s middle child, Aaron, male age 11, seems very quiet and withdrawn. In hearing these stories, how would you help Dianna understand the moral development of children and adolescents? How would you help Dianna understand her role in this |process? How can you apply the theories of moral development in this case? Consider recent research and frame your answer in the language of the course.


I. MATERIAL FROM TEXTBOOK (Organized By Chapter)

  1. Chapter 1
- Positive Development- The [[#|study]] of factors that encourage adolescents to develop in a positive direction.
- Storm and Stress- The belief that adolescence is necessarily a very tumultuous period.
  1. Chapter 4
    - Adolescent Egocentrism (Reflective abstraction)
    • - Imaginary Audience:believes that one is the focus of others' attention and involvement (McMahan, 2009, p. 113)
        • - David Elkind suggests this phase begins to fade by 15 or 16.
    • - Personal Fable:believing that one's experiences are unique and that one is exempt from the usual consequences of one's actions (McMahan, 2009, p. 114)
        • - Teens are aware of the dangers attached to risky behaviors, but they want the excitement more than they fear the possible consequences
        • - Want to avoid regret they would feel if they missed out on something by choosing the safe choice
        • - Boys are more likely to believe in their own uniqueness, invulnerability and omnipotence (McMahan, 2009, p. 115)
  2. Chapter 11
      • Self-Construction and Self-Discovery (p. 371)
        • Self-Construction – motivation to seek out information in their social environment that may be identity related and to build a coherent self from it
        • Self-Discovery – achieving an authentic identity, in this view, means searching for one’s intrinsic nature or “true self” and adopting values, beliefs, and goals that will develop one’s inner potential
          • Try new things and to gain self-knowledge
          • Self-defining activities
          • Encourage a consolidated sense of identity

    1. Two stages of moral development according to [[#|Piaget]]:
      1. Heteronomous morality- (4-7 years old) Rules are viewed as established by authority and unchangeable. Following the rules is always the right thing to do and breaking them is wrong. Immanent justice- the belief that consequences will follow broken rules.
      2. Autonomous morality- (7-10 years old) Rules are randomly based on choice and person that can be changed depending on reasoning and agreement. Attention is given on the persons intent over the outcome. At this stage, immanent justice disappears and realize that wrongdoing does not always receive punishment (McMahan, p. 378).
        1. These developmental transitions progress depending on their cognitive development and role-taking skills.
      3. Justice orientation- boys were brought up to be independent and assertive leading them to see moral questions as fair, objective resolutions between two individuals. Girls were raised to be expressive, kind, and responsive towards others leading them to develop special attention to [[#|relationships]] with others known as, Care orientation (McMahan, p. 381).
      4. The Role of Peers(McMahan, 2009, p. 378)
        • Peers play an important factor in progressing to autonomous moral thinking
        • Peer interactions help to increase one’s ability to consider situations from someone else’s point of view (role-taking)
        • Increased cognitive development and ability to role-take are significant factors that help one transition to more autonomous moral thinking
    2. Parents Role in Moral Development:
      1. [[#|Piaget]]suggests that holding too much authority (authoritative parents) over children may slow down their development toward autonomous moral thinking. Building a warm and supportive [[#|relationship]]would benefit children.
        1. Martin Hoffman's disciplinary techniques parents use:
          1. Induction (Authoritative)- parents explain the effects of actions and relating it to how it could affect others and its connection to moral values.
          2. Power assertion (Authoritarian)- parents use dominant position to control child's actions physically or taking away privileges.
          3. [[#|Love]] withdrawal- parents threaten children with the loss of affection or approval.
      2. Parents can be models for positive development by demonstrating the 5 C's, which encourages similar [[#|behavior]] in children and proves that developing these characteristics is positive and worthwhile. (McMahan, 2009, p. 478) - information found in Chapter 14
      3. Witnessing internal feelings of satisfaction in their parents helps teens develop intrinsic motivation for positive actions (McMahan, 2009, p. 479)
      4. Authoritative Parenting- Parents who are both responsive and demanding. Adolescents from authoritative families consistently show the most favorable outcomes. They do better in school, they are more independent and self-assured, they are less anxious and depressed, and they are less likely to get involved in delinquency and drug use (McMahan, 2009, p. 146). -From chapter 5
    3. Kohlberg and Moral Reasoning:
      • The stages of moral reasoning increases with age. A person moves through the different stages by engaging in arguments that challange their way of reasoning. Chances are that a person will dismiss the argument because they are not ready to restructure their reasoning. However, some peers will put forward reasoning that is more complex and morally adequate than your own. Then you will understand what they are saying and recognize that is more advances. This will move you a bit closer to their way of thinking. (McMahan, 2009, p. 397) Most children are at the preconventional level which includes stages 1 and 2 while adolescents are most commonly in stage 3. As the adolescent progresses, stage 4 reasoning becomes more common. A very small amount of people reach stage 5 and stage 6 has very few people who attain it. (McMahan, 2009, p. 380)
      Six Stages of Development
      1. Preconventional Morality: defined by external rewards and punishment from one point of view (McMahan, 2009, p. 379)
        1. Stage 1- Punishment orientation: If the action is punished it is wrong. If the action is not punished, then it isn't wrong.
        2. Stage 2- Naive hedonism: If the action results in a reward then it is right
      2. Conventional Morality: Here other's point of view becomes very important. Actions are judged right or wrong by the standards of others. The adolescent looks to gain approval from society or parents (McMahan, 2009, p. 379).
        1. Stage 3- "Good boy/Good girl" orientation: The morally right thing to do is whatever will live up to the expectations of those who are significant to you.
        2. Stage 4- Social order orientation: Morality is defined by the rules of legitimate authorities and aimed at preserving social order.
      3. Post Conventional morality: What is right is based on the person's internalization of universal principles of ethics and justice (McMahan, 2009, p. 397)
        1. Stage 5- Social contract orientation: Laws and rules are morally legitimate only to the point where they preserve rights and values (McMahan, 2009, p. 397)
        2. Stage 6- Universal ethical principles: What is morally right is based on universal moral principles and any rule that comes in conflict with them is upstaged
    4. Moral identity: the extent to which someone believes that being moral is an essential characteristic of his or her self; the stronger the belief, the stronger the moral identity (McMahan, 2009, p. 384)
    5. Moral exemplars: people who are considered by those who know them to be outstanding in moral commitment, personality and character (McMahan, 2009, 9. 384)
    6. Parents and Morality
      1. Bandura (2002): Parents serve as the model for morality, and as the source of praise or criticism.
      2. Carlo (2006): Teens around the world who have a supportive relationship with their parents have higher levels of moral development
      3. Carlo (2006): Parents who take an authoritative approach have children who internalize their moral value
      4. Hoffman (1970,2000):
        1. Induction: Parents explain implications of an action
          1. Induction is associated more with authoritative parenting styles
          2. Induction is associated with mature moral thinking and behavior
        2. Power Assertion: Parents use dominant position to control the child's actions
        3. Love Withdrawal: Parents threaten the child with loss of affection/approval
    7. Role of Guilt (McMahan, 2009, p. 383)
      • Freud believed everyone has tension between what the individual wants and what society requires
      • Parents pass along social rules and reasons for these rules to their children
      • Children are afraid that if they are “bad” their parents won’t love them
      • Superego- “in Freud’s theory, the structure of personality that incorporates the moral standards or parents and society and enforces them through feelings of guilt” (McMahan, 2009, p. 383)
      Role of Empathy (McMahan, 2009, p. 383)
      • Empathy- “the capacity to experience similar feelings to those someone else is experiencing” (McMahan, 2009, p. 383).
      • Shown in infants that are only 2 days old
      • Mirror Neurons
        • Physical basis for empathy in the brain
        • Activated when you see someone in distress
        • Functions similarly to when they themselves are in distress


The evolutionary basis of risky adolescent behavior: Implications for science, policy and practice.

Ellis, B.J., Del Giudice, M., Dishion, T.J., Figueredo, A., Gray, P., Griskevicius, V., & … Wilson, D. (2012). The evolutionary basis of risky adolescent behavior: Implications for science, policy and practice. Developmental Psychology, 48(3), 598-623. Doi:10.1037/a0026220


This article proposes an evolutionary model of risky behavior in adolescence and contrasts it with the prevailing developmental psychopathology model. The evolutionary model contends that understanding the evolutionary functions of adolescence is critical to explaining why adolescents engage in risky behavior and that successful intervention depends on working with, instead of against, adolescent goals and motivations. The current article articulates 5 key evolutionary insights into risky adolescent behavior: (a) The adolescent transition is an inflection point in development of social status and reproductive trajectories; (b) interventions need to address the adaptive functions of risky and aggressive behaviors like bullying; (c) risky adolescent behavior adaptively calibrates over development to match both harsh and unpredictable environmental conditions; (d) understanding evolved sex differences is critical for understanding the psychology of risky behavior; and (e) mismatches between current and past environments can dysregulate adolescent behavior, as demonstrated by age-segregated social groupings. The evolutionary model has broad implications for designing interventions for high-risk youth and suggests new directions for research that have not been forthcoming from other perspectives. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)


This study proposes an evolutionary model that could possible reduce the risk of behaviors of adolescence. They describe what evolutionary model is and then how to utilize it. Additionally, it discusses why the evolutionary perspective could quite possible help adolescents deal with their behaviors better.

Moral identity and the experience of moral elevation in response to acts of uncommon goodness.

Aquino, K., McFerran, B., & Laven, M. (2011). Moral identity and the experience of moral elevation in response to acts of uncommon goodness. Journal of Personality And Social Psychology, 100(4), 703-718. Doi:10.1037/a0022540


Four studies using survey and experimental designs examined whether people whose moral identity is highly self-defining are more susceptible to experiencing a state of moral elevation after being exposed to acts of uncommon moral goodness. Moral elevation consists of a suite of responses that motivate prosocial action tendencies.Study 1 showed that people higher (vs. lower) in moral identity centrality reported experiencing more intense elevating emotions, had more positive views of humanity, and were more desirous of becoming a better person after reading about an act of uncommon goodness than about a merely positive situation or an act of common benevolence. Study 2 showed that those high in moral identity centrality were more likely to recall acts of moral goodness and experience moral elevation in response to such events more strongly. These experiences were positively related to self-reported prosocial behavior. Study 3 showed a direct effect on behavior using manipulated, rather than measured, moral identity centrality. Study 4 replicated the effect of moral identity on the states of elevation as well as on self-reported physical sensations and showed that the elevation mediates the relationship between moral identity, witnessing uncommon goodness, and prosocial behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)


This research article discusses how four different studies all discussing moral identity and moral elevation in personal acts of goodness. It identifies how some individuals are more readily able to be susceptible to this experience. Additionally, it discusses how bad events are often more noticeable in a person’s life. Furthermore, that the reason uncommon goodness is often not noticed is it is not readily seen by most.

Family patterns of moral judgment during adolescence and early adulthood.

Speicher, B. (1994). Family patterns of moral judgment during adolescence and early adulthood. Developmental Psychology, 30(5), 624-632. Doi:10.1037/0012-1649.30.5.624


Family patterns of moral reasoning were compared in a cross-sectional sample from the Oakland Growth Study (H. E. Jones, 1939a, 1939b) and a longitudinal sample from L. Kohlberg's (1958) study of moral judgment development. The 221 offspring in the 2 samples (121 male and 100 female) ranged from 10 to 33 yrs old. Age, sex, cognitive stage, IQ, SES, and education were controlled in the data analyses. There were consistent family patterns of moral reasoning in the 2 samples when both sex and background variables were controlled. Developmental patterns indicated that, during adolescence, parent moral judgment was related to offspring moral reasoning but was a stronger predictor of moral judgment among girls than boys. During young adulthood, fathers' moral judgment and education were the strongest predictors of both sons' and daughters' moral reasoning. However, education, not parent moral reasoning, limited the moral stage attained by adult offspring. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)


The article discusses how important adolescent and their parent’s interaction on moral dilemmas is crucial. Additionally, this is even more prevalent in girls than boys. Furthermore, it discusses the different types of relationships (father-son verses father – daughter, etc.) and identifies which ones play a larger role in moral development.

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways:

Parenting During Adolescence, Attachment Styles, and Romantic

Narratives in Emerging Adulthood

In this longitudinal study, a quantitative and qualitative examination of the associations among parent–

child relations, adult attachment styles, and relationship quality and theme in romantic narratives was

conducted. Parenting and adult attachment style were assessed through questionnaires, whereas overall

quality of romantic relationships (regard and importance), intimacy, and romantic story theme were

examined with a life story approach (McAdams, 1993). At ages 17 and 26 years, 100 participants

completed a series of questionnaires and also, at age 26, told a story about a “relationship-defining

moment” with a romantic partner. Parent– child relations when participants were 17 years old were

related predictably to all three attachment styles. About 70% of the sample told romantic stories with a

“true love” type of theme. Associations between parent– child relations when the child was 17 and this

type of theme in the story told when the participant was 26 were mediated by a more secure (and a less

avoidant) attachment style when the participant was 26, as predicted. The implications of these findings

for links between attachment models and the life story are discussed.

Keywords: narrative, adolescence, emerging adulthood, parenting, attachment

Summary- talks about how secure parenting teaches kids to have good marriages.

Nosko, A., Tieu, T., Lawford, H., & Pratt, M. W. (2011). How do I love thee? Let me count the ways: Parenting during adolescence, attachment styles, and romantic narratives in emerging adulthood. Developmental Psychology, 47(3), 645-657. doi:10.1037/a0021814

Youth Sport: Implications for Moral Attitudes, Well-Being,

and Behavioral Investment

Nikos Ntoumanis

University of Birmingham

Ian M. Taylor

Loughborough University

Cecilie Thøgersen-Ntoumani

University of Birmingham

Embedded in achievement goal theory, this study

examined how perceptions of coach and peer motivational climate in youth sport predicted moral

attitudes, emotional well-being, and indices of behavioral investment in a sample of British adolescents

competing in regional leagues. We adopted a longitudinal perspective, taking measures at the middle and

the end of a sport season, as well as at the beginning of the following season. Multilevel modeling

analyses showed that perceptions of task-involving peer and coach climates were predictive of more

adaptive outcomes than were perceptions of ego-involving peer and coach climates. Predictive effects

differed as a function of time and outcome variable under investigation. The results indicate the

importance of considering peer influence in addition to coach influence when examining motivational

climate in youth sport.

Keywords: motivation, peer influence, coaching, achievement goal theory

Summary- Ego -oriented is focus on winning, task if focus on individual doing best in a team atmosphere, task

Ntoumanis, N., Taylor, I. M., & Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C. (2012). A longitudinal examination of coach and peer motivational climates in youth sport: Implications for moral attitudes, well-being, and behavioral investment. Developmental Psychology, 48(1), 213-223. doi:10.1037/a0024934

  1. Kohlberg and Gilligan: Duet or Duel?

    Jorgensen, G. (2006). Kohlberg and Gilligan: Duet or Duel?. Journal Of Moral Education, 35(2), 179-196.

    Most moral psychologists have come to accept two types of moral reasoning: Kohlberg's "justice" and Gilligan's "care", but there still seem to be some unresolved issues. By analysing and comparing Kohlberg's statement on some theoretical issues with some of Gilligan's statements in an interview in April 2003, I will look at some key issues in the so-called "Kohlberg-Gilligan conflict". Some of the questions raised in this paper are: (1) Does Gilligan reject the idea of developmental morality? (2) Does Gilligan support Kohlberg's stage theory and his claim of universality? (3) Did Kohlberg reject Gilligan's proposal to expand his understanding of moral reasoning? (4) Was Gilligan's theory a critique of or an expansion to Kohlberg's theory? The findings of this analysis suggest that the first question be answered negatively, the second positively, the third negatively and the fourth that Gilligan's theory is an expansion rather than a critique.

    Summary: This study is a good article because it looks at morality from both perspectives of Kohlberg and Gilligan. This is important because Dianna is having issues with children from both sexes. The importance of Kohlberg and Gilligan is that they both have classifications of morality. Kohlberg's however is said to be biased to western cultured males. While this will help Dianna with issues with her son, she will need to use Gilligan's 'care' model in regards to her daughter. The study itself examines the relationship between the work of Kohlberg and Gilligan and establishes that there is such a thing as development of morality and that Gilligan's work is not as much a critique of Kohlberg but rather an expansion.

2.Children’s Self-esteem and Moral Self: Links to Parent–Child Conversations Regarding Emotion
Reese, E., Bird, A., & Tripp, G. (2007). Children's Self-Esteem and Moral Self: Links to Parent-Child Conversations Regarding Emotion. Social Development, 16(3), 460-478.

The current study has two aims: (1) to examine associations between the emotional content of parent-child past event conversations and two aspects of children's self-concept--moral self and self-esteem; and (2) to examine the degree to which talk about past events is uniquely associated with self-concept when compared with talk about ongoing events and situations. Fifty-one five- and six-year-old New Zealand children and their parents discussed four emotional past events and two ongoing conflicts. Children's moral self, self-esteem and language ability were also assessed. When parents referred to a greater number of positive emotions and evaluations, regardless of conversation type, their children had higher self-esteem. Past event talk also uniquely predicted children's self-esteem: Parents who used more explanations during conversations regarding past negative emotions, and more explanations and confirmations of past positive emotions, had children with higher self-esteem. We discuss these results with respect to an autobiographical memory approach to self-concept development.

Summary: This study is relevant speaking to the question regarding Dianna's role in this process. The study looks at the importance of conversations between parents and children in different experiences such as positive events and negative events. For example, the importance of an explanatory discussion when a child has done something wrong. This is vital in a child's development and understanding of what is right and wrong. Continuing, the study shows the relevance of parental interaction and development of a child's self-concept and self-esteem. This heavily supports what we have learned about parenting styles and supports methods used by authoritative parents.

3. Children's interpretive understanding, moral judgments, & emotional attributions: Relations to social behaviour.
Malti, T., Gasser, L., & Gutzwiller-Helfenfinger, E. (2010). Children’s interpretive understanding, moral judgments, and emotion attributions: Relations to social behaviour. British Journal Of Developmental Psychology,28(2), 275-292. doi:10.1348/026151009X403838

The study investigated interpretive understanding, moral judgments, and emotion attributions in relation to social behavior in a sample of 59 5-year-old, 123 7-year-old, and 130 9-year-old children. Interpretive understanding was assessed by two tasks measuring children’s understanding of ambiguous situations. Moral judgments and emotion attributions were measured using two moral rule transgressions. Social behavior was assessed using teachers’ ratings of aggressive and prosocial behavior.Aggressive behavior was positively related to interpretive understanding and negatively related to moral reasoning. Prosocial behavior was positively associated with attribution of fear. Moral judgments and emotion attributions were related, depending on age.Interpretive understanding was unrelated to moral judgments and emotion attributions.The findings are discussed in regard to the role of interpretive understanding andmoral and affective knowledge in understanding children’s social behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved) (ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR)

Summary: The findings reveal a developing association between moral judgments and emotional attributions. Angry and happy emotions decline with age and fearful emotions increase with age. The feelings associated with moral judgment differ as a function of age. Prosocial behavior was negatively related to punishment and anger but it did positively relate to fear. This supports the view of children's motives regards to their moral actions.

4. Parenting and Gender as Predictors of Moral Courage in Late Adolescence: A Longitudinal Study
Bronstein, P., Fox, B.J., Kamon, J.L., & Knolis, M.L. (2007). Parenting and gender as predictors of moral
courage in late adolescence: A longitudinal study. Sex Roles, 56(9/10), 661-674.

The present study was designed to examine longitudinal predictors of moral courage in late adolescence. Supportive, responsive parenting, which was measured through home observations and family reports in the fifth grade year, predicted girls’ willingness in late adolescence to speak up or take action when they witnessed or experienced injustice or harm. In contrast, parenting that was harsh and restrictive predicted both girls’ and boys’ later reticence in those circumstances. Further, the effects of earlier parenting were mediated by individual and peer-related factors.Specifically, social competence with peers in fifth grade and self-esteem in twelfth grade mediated the effects of parenting on both moral courage and moralreticence for late adolescent girls, and self-esteem in fifth grade mediated the effects of parenting on moral reticence for late adolescent boys.

This article provides interesting insight in moral development of adolescent boys and girls. Following 87 girls and boys from fifth grade through twelfth grade, researchers used in-home observations, interviews, and questionnaires to measure parenting style and degrees of self-esteem, social competence, and moral development (as in, would the kids stand up for themselves, for a friend, etc). End results found that authoritative parenting at preadolescence, what the researchers called "aware parenting" led to increased moral development in girls, whereas punitive parenting led to decreased moral development for the girls. While 'aware parenting' increased self-esteem and social competence for boys, there was no significant connection between parenting style and moral development for boys. The researchers suggest that boys may be more influenced by social norms.

5. The Relations of Parental Affect and Encouragement to Children's Emotions and Behaviour
Spinrad, T. L., Losoya,S. H., Eisenberg, N., Fabes, R. A., Shepard, S. A., Cumberland, A., ...Murphy, B. C. (1999). The relations of parental affect and encouragement to children's moral emotions and behaviour. Journal of Moral Education, 28(3), 323-337.
Although researchers have been concerned with the effects of parental socialisation on children's outcomes, there has been surprisingly little work on the socialisation of children's moral emotions and behaviour. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of observed parental affect and encouragement in children's empathy-related responding and moral behaviour (i.e. cheating). Moreover, the moderating influence of children's characteristics (i.e. sex) on this relationship was investigated. Ninety-seven girls and 119 boys (mean age = 73 months) with a parent participated in the study. Children completed a dispositional sympathy and empathy questionnaire and were observed in a resistance-to-temptation task.Further, parents' affect and encouragement were assessed during two parent-child interactive situations. Results indicated that parents' positive affect and encouragement were positively related to children's sympathy. In contrast, parents' interactive style was not related to children's empathy. In terms of children's moral behaviour, findings revealed that parental interactive style was related to boys' but not girls' cheating on a puzzle task. These findings offer support for the notion that parental practices involving emotion contribute to children's moral development. (ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR)

The findings support that parental practices high in encouragement and positive affect can serve as positive models for their children. Essentially, parental practices can influence children's moral development. Additionally it was found that girls had higher sympathy and empathy than did boys. Boys also spent more time cheating on the puzzle activity than did girls. Parental encouragement was associated with higher sympathy in both sexes.

6. Parent Personality and Positive Parenting as Predictors of Positive Adolescent Personality Development over Time
Schofield, T. J., Conger, R. D., Donnellan, M. B., & Jochem, R. (2012). Parent personality and positive parenting as. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 58(2), 255-283.

Abstract: We investigated the [[#|degree]] to which parent positive personality characteristics in terms of conscientiousness, agreeableness, and emotional stability predict similar adolescent personality traits over time, as well as the role played by positive parenting in this process. Mothers and fathers of 451 White adolescents (52% female, mean age = 13.59 years) were assessed on three occasions, with 2-year lags between each assessment. Parent personality and observed positive parenting both predicted 12th graders personality. Additionally, we found evidence for an indirect link between parent personality and later adolescent personality through positive parenting. The results suggest that parents may play a significant role in the development of adolescent personality traits that promote competence and personal well-being across the life course.

Summary: This research found that positive [[#|parenting]] not only affects children when they are infants and children, but it also reaches into adolescence. Furthermore, when parents of adolescent’s exhibit behaviors such as agreeableness, emotional stability, and conscientiousness it is likely that the adolescents will exhibit these behaviors, this is consistent with the social learning theory. Also, high levels of parental warmth paired with low levels of parental hostility serves to promote high moral development in adolescents.

7.Adolescent Moral Judgment and Perceptions of Family Interaction

Speicher, B. (1992). Adolescent moral judgment and perceptions of family interaction. Journal Of Family Psychology, 6(2), 128-138.

Abstract: Oakland Growth Study (Jones, 1939) subjects and 98 adolescent offspring, ages 10 to 18 years, responded to Kohlberg Moral Judgment Interviews (Colby et al., 1987) and reported their perceptions of family interaction during 2 waves of longitudinal follow-up at the Institute of Human Development, University of California, Berkeley. Relationships between adolescent moral judgment and parent and adolescent perceptions of family structure, decision making, value orientation, moral transmission, and interpersonal relationships were assessed, with age, sex, IQ, and parent moral judgment controlled. Adolescent moral judgment was most consistently related to reports of positive intrafamilial relationships and cognitive stimulation of moral reasoning. Sex differences in relationships between family interaction and moral judgment were also found.

Summary: Qualities in the parent-adolescent relationship led a key impact in the moral judgment and its effects on adolescents. Family communication is needed and continues to need to be positive. Structural family characteristics are important in assisting with the moral development of adolescents. Interpersonal family relationships continue to play in an important role.

8. Bidirectional Links and Concurrent Development of Parent-Child Relationships and Boys’ Offending Behavior

Keijsers, L., Loeber, R., Branje, S., & Meeus, W. (2011). Bidirectional links and concurrent development of parent-child relationships and boys' offending behavior. Journal Of Abnormal Psychology, 120(4), 878-889.

Abstract: This study examined different types of longitudinal associations (i.e., directional links and overlapping developmental changes) between children’s delinquency and the quality of parent– child relationships from middle childhood to late adolescence. We used 10-wave interview data of 503 boys, their primary caregivers, and their teachers. Our first aim was to unravel the direction of effects between parent– child relationships and children’s offending. Cross-lagged panel models revealed bidirectional links over time between poorer quality parent– child relationships and boys’ offending across late childhood (age 7–10), early adolescence (age 10–13) and middle adolescence (age 13–16). Second, we examined the associations between mean changes in delinquency, on the one hand, and mean changes in relationship quality, on the other hand. Although parent– child relationships improved during childhood, their quality decreased in early adolescence and remained stable in middle adolescence. Delinquency increased only in middle adolescence. In five out of six models, the slope factors of relationship quality and offending were strongly correlated, indicating that stronger increases in delinquency were associated with stronger decreases in parent– child relationship quality across childhood, early adolescence, and middle adolescence. The discussion focuses on the theoretical implications of these two types of longitudinal associations.

Summary: Parents need to continual reinforce adolescent behavior in hopes of a reciprocated outcome. If not, the misbehavior will be amplified by the adolescent. The peak of delinquency occurred earlier in boys than in girls. The longer there is a decrease in parent knowledge and communication, with the adolescent, the higher the delinquency.

9.Individual Differences in Early Adolescents’ Beliefs in the Legitimacy of Parental Authority

Kuhn, E. S., & Laird, R. D. (2011). Individual differences in early adolescents' beliefs in the legitimacy of parental authority. Developmental Psychology, 47(5), 1353-1365.

Abstract: Adolescents differ in the extent to which they believe that parents have legitimate authority to impose rules restricting adolescents’ behavior. The purpose of the current study was to test predictors of
individual differences in legitimacy beliefs during the middle school years. Annually, during the summers following Grades 5, 6, and 7, early adolescents (n _ 218; 51% female, 47% African American, 73% in 2-parent homes) reported their beliefs regarding the legitimacy of parents’ rules that restrict and monitor adolescents’ free time activities. Cross-lagged analyses revealed that legitimacy beliefs were bidirectionally associated with independent decision making, psychological control, antisocial peer involvement, and resistance to control. Legitimacy beliefs declined more rapidly during the middle school years for boys than for girls and for adolescents who were older relative to their classmates. More independent decision making in Grades 5 and 6 predicted larger than expected declines in legitimacy beliefs in Grades 6 and 7. In sum, legitimacy beliefs weaken developmentally, and weaker legitimacy beliefs relative to same-grade peers are anteceded by premature autonomous experiences, psychological
control, and adolescent attributes.

Summary: Beliefs for some adolescents in the moral and prudential domains are more intractable and may be less influenced by autonomous experiences, parenting, and child characteristics. Factors or legitimacy beliefs were looked at. A need for control impacts the beliefs of the adolescents and the actions and reactions of the parents.

10. Socialization and Individual Antecedents of Adolescents' and Young Adults
Malti, T., & Buchmann, M. (2010). Socialization and Individual Antecedents of Adolescents' and Young Adults' Moral Motivation. Journal Of Youth And Adolescence, 39(2), 138-149.
Abstract: Socialization and individual differences were examined as antecedents of moral motivation in representative samples of 15-year-old adolescents (N = 1,258; 54% female) and 21-year-old young adults (N = 584; 53% female). The adolescents’ primary caregivers (N = 1,056) also participated. The strength of moral motivation was
rated by participants’ responses to two hypothetical moral dilemmas in terms of action decisions, emotion attributions, and justifications. Socialization was measured by the
perceived quality of friendship, parent–child relationships, and educational background. The importance attached to social justice and various personality traits were also
assessed. Adolescents’ moral motivation was positively associated with the quality of their parent–child relationship and the importance of social justice. Young adults’
moral motivation was predicted by the perceived quality of friendships, the importance of social justice, and agreeableness. For both groups, moral motivation was greater in
females. The theoretical implications of the findings for the development of moral motivation are discussed.
Summary: The study focused on who adolescents gather their learned morality from: friends or parents. Results showed that adolescents in their teens learn the most about morality from their parents. The quality of the parent–child relationship is positively related to the importance of social justice. The higher the level of education a parent had greatly corresponded to a higher understanding of social justice amongst adolescents. The lower the education of parents negatively impacted adolescent understanding of social justice.

11. Current Research on Moral Education in Europe

Ferguson, N. (2006). Current Research on Moral Education and Development in Europe. Journal Of Moral Education, 35(1), 129-136

The Moral and Social Action Interdisciplinary Colloquium (MOSAIC) is an international multidisciplinary network of scholars working within the fields of the philosophy, psychology and sociology of moral development, moral education and moral thought. MOSAIC runs an annual conference, traditionally in June or July. This conference attracts an international mix of doctoral students, early career researchers and more established academics. The theme of the 2005 conference, held at the Universitat Konstanz in Germany, was the moral and religious challenges facing education in Europe. The programme was diverse, with papers covering topics as varied as values education, religious orientation, morality across cultures, measuring morality, individual differences and moral domains. This research review aims to showcase some of the research presented at this MOSAIC conference. A selection of seven abstracts extended and edited to form summaries demonstrates the varied research in the fields of moral development, moral education and moral thought currently being undertaken by MOSAIC members. These provide a resource for those involved in, or who intend to embark on, related work. The selected summaries include: (1) "The Problems Faced by Disabled Students in Higher Education: An Ethical Perspective" (Mujde Koca); (2) "The Moral Judgement Competence of Adolescents in the Republic of Macedonia in the Case of Transgression towards State Symbols" (Marijana Handziska); (3) "Moral Reasoning among Nigerian and Northern Irish Children: The Impact of Political Conflict" (Neil Ferguson); (4) "Values and Knowledge Education (VaKE) -- Can They be Combined? Concepts, Philosophical Bases, Experiences and Evaluation" (Sieglinde Weyringer, Jean-Luc Patry); (5) "Cross-Cultural Validity of the Moral Judgment Test (MJT): Findings from 17 Validation Studies" (Georg Lind); (6) "The Effect of Context on Moral Judgements" (Zsuzsanna Vajda, Szabolcs Hajnal); and (7) "The Role of Self-Interest in Moral Ascriptions and Political Perceptions" (Aleksandra Cislak).

Summary: Researchers look at the need to directs moral and social instruction for adolescents due to the growing physical range of the European Union, and the need for adolescents to undertand people vastly different from themselves in the future.

12. A Longitudinal Study of Adolescents’ Attitudes about Assistance in the Development of Moral Values
Zern, D. S. (1997). A longitudinal study of adolescents’ attitudes about assistance in the development of moral values. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 158, 79-95.

Abstract: A questionnaire-based study of 2,863 adolescents (ages 12 to 22 years), with data collected over 15 years, measured the extent to which informants believed that elementary, secondary, and college-age young people should receive guidance on moral issues from the family, school, clergy, peers, and/or the individual himself or herself. Averaging the ratings of all respondents over the first three categories yielded an overall authority score of 1.85, where a score of 2.00 represented a belief in moderate influence. Results showed a minimal difference in the ratings between genders, among different age groups, and across the different calendar years of questionnaire administration. Much more substantial differences existed among the actual influences investigated and across the ages of those to whom the influence was to be directed. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Summary: Family was perceived as the most important authority influence across all three age groups; however both family and school received high ratings at the elementary and secondary levels. Peers were reported to have less influence on elementary-aged children. Peer influence then increased from elementary to secondary level, but decreased for college-age individuals. Additionally, the influence of the individual himself or herself increased with age, thus indicating that individuals deem their opinion on moral issues as more influential than those of authority figures as these individuals increase in age.

13. Self-Centeredness and Selflessness: A Theory of Self-Based Psychological Functioning and Its Consequences for Happiness

Dambrun, M., Ricard, M. (2011). Self-centeredness and selflessness: a theory of self-based psychological functioning and its consequences for happiness. American Psychological Association. 15 (2), 38–157.


The theoretical model presented in this paper emerged from several different disciplines. This model proposes that the attainment of happiness is linked to the self, and more particularly to the structure of the self. We support the idea that the perception of a structured self, which takes the form of a permanent, independent and solid entity leads to self-centered psychological functioning, and this seems to be a significant source of both affliction and fluctuating happiness. Contrary to this, a selfless psychological functioning emerges whenperception of the self is flexible (i.e., a dynamic network of transitory relations), and this seems to be a source of authentic-durable happiness. In this paper, these two aspects of psychological functioning and their underlying processes will be presented. We will also explore the potential mechanisms that shape them. We will conclude with an examination of possible applications of our theory.


This review discusses the differences between self-centeredness and selflessness. It offers definitions of the two personalities. The review gives a theory of what the levels of happiness may be for each personality and consequences. Dianna may benefit to know the outcomes of each of the personalities to better prepare her children and to know what areas would be more practical to work on. The study addresses the parent as the direct force to transfer value, skills, beliefs, and emotions to their children. Without the parents doing this “socialization” the child does not have any specific training to follow by.

14. Age Changes in Prosocial Responding and Moral Reasoning in Adolescence and Early Adulthood

Eisenberg, N., Cumberland, A., Guthrie, I. K., Murphy, B. C., & Shepard, S. A. (2005). Age changes in prosocial responding and moral reasoning in adolescence
and early adulthood. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 15(3), 235-260.


Age changes' measures of prosocial responding and reasoning were examined. Participants' reports of helping, empathy-related responding, and prosocial moral reasoning were obtained in adolescence (from age 15-16 years) and into adulthood (to age 25-26 years). Perspective taking and approval/interpersonal orientedstereotypic prosocial moral reasoning increased from adolescence into adulthood, whereas personal distress declined. Helping declined and then increased (a cubic trend). Prosocial moral judgment composite scores (and self-reflective empathic reasoning) generally increased from late adolescence into the early 20s (age 17-18 to 21-22) but either leveled off or declined slightly thereafter (i.e., showed linear and cubic trends); rudimentary needs-oriented reasoning showed the reverse pattern of change. The increase in self-reflective empathic moral reasoning was for females only. Thus, perspective taking and some aspects of prosocial moral reasoning--capacities with a strong sociocognitive basis--showed the clearest increases with age, whereas simple prosocial proclivities (i.e., helping, sympathy) did not increase with age.[ABSTRACT BY AUTHOR]

Summary: This article describes the changes adolescents generally follow through their development concerning helping, empathy-related responding, and pro-social moral reasoning. The researchers follow children from ages 15-16 through 25-26. Participants are given self surveys about their attitudes, perspectives and priorities over time. The results show how adolescents move from egocentrism to concern for others.

Moral self and moral emotion expectancies as predictors of anti- and prosocial behaviour in adolescence: A case for mediation?

Johston, M., & Krettenauer, T. (2011). Moral self and moral emotion expectancies as. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 8(2), 228-243.

Abstract: Previous research has linked (im)moral behaviour with both moral emotion expectancies and the self-importance of moral values, indicating that these two factors influence moral decision making and action. Disentangling the relationship between moral emotion expectancies and self-importance of moral values as predictors of adolescents’ anti- and prosocial behaviour was the primary goal of this research. Two hundred five participants (mean age ¼ 14.83 years) completed a semi-structured interview assessing moral emotion expectancies in hypothetical situations and a written questionnaire measuring self-reported prosocial and antisocial behaviour and the self-importance of moral values. Moral emotion expectancies were found to mediate the relationship between the self-importance of moral values and self-reported levels of antisocial behaviour. When predicting levels of prosocial engagement, however, scores of moral value self-importance were the primary variable associated with prosocial behavior whereas moral emotion expectancies were not involved in this relationship. In addition, a moderating effect of age was found when predicting antisocial behaviour by moral emotion expectancies. Overall, the study confirms and significantly extends previous research on the relationship between adolescents’ moral self, moral emotion expectancies and anti- versus prosocial behaviour.

Summary: Researchers determined that moral emotion expectancies are related to level of antisocial behavior in the general adolescent population and not merely in highly aggressive youth. They also found that the effect of moral emotion expectancies as a predictor of antisocial behavior increased with age.

16.Personal Stories of Empathy in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood
Soucie, K. M., Lawford, H., & Pratt, M. W. (2012). Personal stories of empathy in adolescence and emerging a. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 58(2), 141-158.


Age-related and individual differences in adolescents' and emerging adults' stories of real-life empathic and nonempathic experiences were examined. A total of 29 adolescents (M = 15.28, SD = .99) and 31 emerging adults (M = 18.23, SD = .56) told stories of empathic and nonempathic life events and completed measures of authoritative parenting and dispositional empathy. Older participants recalled more empathic and nonempathic experiences overall and expressed more meaning making and prosocial engagement in their stories. Higher dispositional empathy predicted a stronger sense of self as empathic and greater prosocial engagement. Perceptions of mothers but not fathers as authoritative predicted more prosocial engagement and a stronger sense of self as empathic. These findings are discussed in relation to the development of the life story and narrative identity (McAdams, 2001), and suggest that this model can be extended in novel ways to the domain of personal empathy. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Summary: This article describes how empathy and sympathy develop beginning with the family and change and progress over time through one's own experiences. Participants were interviewed and then asked to write narratives of their own experiences. The researchers then compared interviews, surveys and narratives and made correlations as to what factors had the most influence.

17.Family Influences on the Formation of MoralIdentity in Adolescence: longitudinal analyses.

Hart, D., Atkins, R., & Ford, D. (1999). Family influences on the formation of moral identity in adolescence: Longitudinal analyses . Journal of Moral Education, 28(3), 375-386.


A model of moral identity formation is presented. According to the model, family influences have a direct effect on moral identity development in adolescence, independent of the effects of personality, income and other factors. The model is tested using longitudinal data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (Child Sample), which is constituted of the children born to a representative sample of American women who were between the ages of 14 and 21 in 1979. In general, the results provide support for the model. Cognitively and socially rich family environments, combined with high levels of parent-adolescent joint activity, were found to facilitate voluntary participation in community service, a marker of moral identity formation. The implications of these findings for parenting, moral education and future research are discussed. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Summary: This research describes the influence and parenting style on adolescent development of morality. This longitudinal study looks as adolescent's involvement in community service, volunteering, and other extracurricular activities and clubs. Researchers also explored parent involvement with children in and out of the home by questioning both parents and their children.

A comparative analysis of empathy in childhood and adolescence: Gender differences and associated socio-emotional variables.
Garaigordobil, M. (2009). A comparative analysis of empathy in childhood and adolescence: Gender differences and associated socio-emotional variables. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 9 (2), 217-235.
Abstract: This study has two objectives: 1) to carry out a comparative exploration of empathy and a set of socio-emotional variables in childhood and adolescence, analyzing gender differences; and 2) to analyze the relationship of empathy with social behaviour, sociometric choice of prosocial classmate, self-concept and capacity for analyzing negative emotions in children and in adolescents. The sample is made up of 313 participants aged 10 to 14 years. The methodology used is descriptive and correlational. In order to measure the variables, we administered 12 assessment instruments. The ANOVAs indicate that, for all ages, girls score significantly higher in empathy, prosocial behaviour, assertive behaviour and ability for cognitive analysis of negative emotions, whereas boys present more aggressive behaviours in their interaction with peers. Furthermore, the analysis reveals that capacity for empathy does not increase between the ages of 10 and 14. Pearson coefficients suggest, for all ages, a positive association of empathy with positive social behaviours (prosocial, assertive, consideration for others), self-concept and ability to analyze the causes of negative emotions; and a negative association with negative social behaviours (aggressive, antisocial, withdrawal).
Summary: This study reported that empathy and prosocial behavior is related. Also, it was reported that there is a positive association between empathy and self-concept. Also, empathy is an important factor in the process through which the individual develops both the patterns of thinking and behavior in accordance with social norms, and the connections of empathy to a highly relevant structural personality construct such as self-concept. Empathy appears to be closely related to antisocial behavior in boys and to prosocial behavior in both sexes, and is crucial to understanding social behavior.

Early Adolescence and Prosocial/Moral Behavior.
Fabes, R. A., Carlo, G., Kupanoff, K., & Laible, D. (1999). Early adolescence and prosocial/moral behavior I: The role of individual processes. Faculty Publications, Department of Psychology, Paper 43. Retrieved from:
Abstract: In this introductory article, the purpose of the special issue on prosocial and moral development during early adolescence is presented. This issue is the first of two special issues and focuses on the role that individual processes play in influencing young adolescents’ prosocial and moral development. Presented also is a new meta-analysis of data on age and gender differences in prosocial behavior with particular focus on early adolescence. It was found that prosocial behavior during adolescence rarely has been studied, but that there are general increases in prosocial behavior during this time when compared with early age periods. Moreover, gender differences in prosocial behavior (favoring girls) increase during this time. A relatively short review of the individual mechanisms by which these changes occur follows. A call for more research and suggestions for future directions in this research also is provided.
Summary: Early adolescence is a period of time when multiple transitions occur. As a result, a popular stereotype of the transition to adolescence is that this is a period of “storm and stress.” Although this negative stereotype applies to only a small percentage of early adolescents, the perception is one of increased aggression, hostility, and antisocial behaviors. During this time, adolescents transition from egocentric to sociocentric functioning and develop and understanding of the internal and external states of others. By age 12, children usually overcome the limitations of concrete operational thinking and begin to understand others’ perspectives. Because young adolescents become exposed to an increasing array of viewpoints as a result of interactions with peers, perspective-taking skills become increasingly important for successful social development. The development of empathy closely parallels the development of cognitive skills. This newfound ability to empathize with a group of others might predict relatively sophisticated forms of moral behaviors. Therefore, the transition to adolescence is important to the development of empathy and sympathy and may help to explain relatively sophisticated moral behaviors in adolescents.

20. Moral Emotions and Moral Behavior
Tangney, J. P., Steuwig, J., & Mashek, D. J. (2007). Moral emotions and moral behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 345-372. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.psych.56.091103.070145
Abstract: Moral emotions represent a key element of our human moral apparatus, influencing the link between moral standards and moral behavior. This chapter reviews current theory and research on moral emotions. We first focus on a triad of negatively valenced “self-conscious” emotions—shame, guilt, and embarrassment. As in previous decades, much research remains focused on shame and guilt. We review current thinking on the distinction between shame and guilt, and the relative advantages and disadvantages of these two moral emotions. Several new areas of research are highlighted: research on the domain-specific phenomenon of body shame, styles of coping with shame, psychobiological aspects of shame, the link between childhood abuse and later proneness to shame, and the phenomena of vicarious or “collective” experiences of shame and guilt. In recent years, the concept of moral emotions has been expanded to include several positive emotions—elevation, gratitude, and the sometimes morally relevant experience of pride. Finally, we discuss briefly a morally relevant emotional process—other-oriented empathy.
Summary: This study researched the implications of moral standards and moral emotion for moral decisions and moral behavior. Although feelings of guilt generally arise from some failure or violation of moral standards, proneness to guilt (an affective disposition) is conceptually distinct from moral standards (a set of beliefs guiding one’s evaluation of behavior).


21. A Study on Moral Judgment Ability of Pre-adolescent Children (9-11 Year) of Public Schools

Gupta, P. (2010). A study on moral judgment ability of pre-adolescent children (9-11 year) of public schools. International Journal of Education & Allied Sciences, 2(2), p. 73-86.


The present study was carried out to study the moral judgment ability of pre-adolescent (9-11 years) of public school of yamunanager. Moraljudgment involves a cognitive capacity to define situation in terms of right and duties. Pre-adolescent can see themselves better from other people's view and thus develop awareness for moral issues. The sample consisted of 200 children, 100 of which were in the age group of 8 -9 years and 100 in the age group of 10-11 years. Sex ratio was also maintained. Moral judgment was measured by Moral judgment Test developed by Meera Verma and Durga Nand Sinha. Results revealed a significant difference in the moral judgment ability between two groups with older children (10-11 years) scoring higher than younger ones (8-9 years) , suggested that maturity is a necessary (through not sufficient) condition fordevelopment of moral judgment ability. Various antecedently conditions to morality were also studies among which mothers' and fathers' education was found to have a paramount effect on Childs' moral judgment. But gender shows a negligible impact on moral judgment ability of the child.


This article describes the basic understandings of moral judgment, based on the theories of Piaget and Kohlberg, while also explaining the effects of age, gender and parental education on moral judgment. Gupta concluded that 10-11 year olds showed a major increase in moral judgment compared to 8-9 year olds, and gender played no role in an adolescent’s moral judgment abilities. Also, adolescents were found to have better moral judgment if both their mother and father had a higher educational status.

Value Transmission in the Family: Do Adolescents Accept the Values Their Parents Want to Transmit?

Barni, D., Ranieri, S., Scabini, E., & Rosnati, R.(2011).Value transmission in the family: Do adolescents accept the values their parents want to transmit?.Journal of Moral Education, 40(1), p. 105-121. Doi: 10.1080/03057240.2011.553797


This study focused on value transmission in the family and assessed adolescents' acceptance of the values their parents want to transmit to them (socialisation values), identifying some factors that may affect the level of acceptance.Specifically, actual value agreement between parents, parental agreement as perceived by adolescents, parent-child closeness and promotion of child's volitional functioning, were considered as predictors. Participants were 381 family triads (father, mother and adolescent child) from northern Italy; the adolescents (46.2% male) were all high-school students from 15 to 19 years of age. Both parents and their children filled out self-report questionnaires. Findings showed a moderate level of acceptance in families, suggesting the presence of similarities as well as differences between parents' socialisation values and adolescents' personal values. All the predictors considered except parents' actual agreement, were found to be significantly and positively related to acceptance. Implications for moral development are discussed and suggestions for education and future research are provided.


This was an interesting article that analyzed responses from select Italian families to see whether or not parents’ moral values were being transmitted to their children. The study concluded that the children understood their parents need to communicate the values of safety, conformity, tradition and self-direction. However, the boys were also found to highly value hedonism and stimulation. Both the girls and boys differed from their parents by placing less importance on conservation and self-enhancement.




The purpose of this study was to determine if parents and teachers differed in their views of adolescent storm and stress, and to examine the relations of these reported perceptions with parenting and teaching behaviors. Subjects were parents and teachers of middle and high school students in three school districts in the Midwest. Storm and stress beliefs were identified as parents' and teachers' perceptions of conflict, moodiness, and risk-taking behavior. Scales assessing classic/conforming and positive adolescentbehaviors also were included. Self-report assessments of parenting and teaching were administered as well. Results indicated that whereas both parents and teachers held storm and stress beliefs, teachers maintained stronger perceptions than parents. Teachers also endorsed higher classic/conforming and lower positive behaviors than did parents. The results further indicated that parents' perceptions of storm and stress were related to their degree of parental responsiveness; but teachers' perceptions were not related to their teaching style. These results suggest that Stereotypic beliefs of the adolescent period continue to be maintained, and that these may influence how adults interact with adolescents. ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR

This article compares the views and reactions of teachers vs. parents on adolescent periods of storm and stress. It evaluates the reactions and parenting styles that are induced through such times, and implies the adolescent reaction to those styles.


Parent Personality and Positive Parenting as Predictors of Positive Adolescent Personality Development Over Time

Schofield, T. J., Conger, R. D., Donnellan, M., Jochem, R., Widaman, K. F., & Conger, K. J. (2012). Parent Personality and Positive Parenting as Predictors of Positive Adolescent Personality Development Over Time. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 58(2), 255-283


We investigated the degree to which parent positive personality characteristics in terms of conscientiousness, agreeableness, and emotional stability predict similar adolescent personality traits over time, as well as the role played by positive parenting in this process. Mothers and fathers of 451 White adolescents (52% female, mean age = 13.59 years) were assessed on three occasions, with 2-year lags between each assessment. Parent personality and observed positive parenting both predicted 12th graders personality. Additionally, we found evidence for an indirect link between parent personality and later adolescent personality through positive parenting. The results suggest that parents may play a significant role in the development of adolescent personality traits that promote competence and personal well-being across the life course. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]


This study examines the influence of parent personality on the personality development of adolescents. It was found that positive personality traits among parents, such as agreeableness and emotional stability, correlated with positive parenting. Children were likely to model similar positive traits that were seen in their parents.

Parental Morality and Family Processes as Predictors of Adolescent Morality

White, F. A., & Matawie, K. M. (2004). Parental morality and family processess as predictors of adolescent morality. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 13(2), 219-233.

Abstract: This study investigated the extent to which parents’ moral thought and family processes are involved in the socialization of adolescent moral thought. Olson

et al’s (1992) Circumplex Model and White’s (2000) Family Socialization Model provided the conceptual framework for predicting that families high in cohesion,

adaptability and communication would facilitate the transmission of moral values between parents and adolescents more effectively than families low in these

family processes. Results involving 218 adolescent-parent dyads revealed that perceived family cohesion and communication moderated the father-adolescent moral

thought relationship; that several facets of both parents’ morality significantly predicted adolescents’ morality; and that all three family processes significantly

predicted certain aspects of adolescent morality. Therefore the extent to which parents’ socialize adolescent moral values will vary according to each parent’s

moral view, the strength of family processes and the content of moral thought being transmitted. (Abstract from the author)

Summary: This article analyzes the effect of parents and family on the development of adolescent morality. The authors investigate communication, openness, and comfort within the family groups, looking particularly at the effect these qualities have on moral development. Data about the demographics about each family was taken and the families were a diverse group of backgrounds. Families participated in a questionnaire where they answered questioned separately from each other. The end result of the study was that authors found parents do, in fact, have a heavy influence on their children's external and principle morality. An adolescent's internal morality, it was found, is not nearly as affected by parental morality.

25. Difficult Sibling, Easy Sibling
Schachter, F., & Stone, R. K. (1985). Difficult Sibling, Easy Sibling: Temperament and the Within-Family Environment. Child Development, 56(5), 1335-44.
Abstract: Examines whether mothers' temperament ratings of their children as easy or difficult follow the pattern of occurrence of sibling deidentification as determined by generalized alike-different judgments. Participants were 111 middle-class mothers (80 with two children and 31 with three) and 93 inner-city mothers (62 with two children and 31 with three).
Summary: The researchers interviewed mothers with multiple children to rate the temperament of each child. During the interviews some of the mothers who rated their child as being difficult, changed their response. The researchers theorized that this was due to a social stigma. They found that often, the youngest sibling in a family of three is deidentifed by the mother.

26. Differential Experiences of Siblings in the Same Family as Predictors of Adolescent Sibling Personality Differences.

Daniels, D. (1986). Differential Experiences of Siblings in the Same Family as Predictors of Adolescent Sibling Personality Differences. Journal Of Personality & Social Psychology, 51(2), 339-346.

Abstract: In the area of personality development, environmental influences operate to make siblings in the same family different rather than similar to each other. The goal of the present study was to deter- mine whether differential experience of siblings can be used to explain the marked personality differences of siblings. The Sibling Inventory of Differential Experience (SIDE) along with personality information (the EAS Temperament Inventory and questions about career expectations) was administered to 50 biological sibling pairs and 98 adoptive sibling pairs in adolescence and young adulthood. The results indicated that differential sibling interaction and differential peer characteristics as self-reported on the SIDE explain 6%-26% of the variance in sibling personality difference scores. For example, the sibling who reports more sociability as compared to his sibling also experiences more sibling closeness and more peer popularity as compared to his sibling. Comparison between adoptive and biological siblings indicates that the SIDE relations are mediated environmentally rather than genetically.

Summary: This study takes the analytical approach to analyze siblings, which ended up showing that the sibling who is kinder is also nicer to his/ her friends. But what isn't taken care of its the family approach. What do parents have to do? According to SIDE, only forty percent of siblings reported differences in the way that their parents treated them and their siblings. However, the 65% of the sample that did report their parents treated them differently said that their was a significant difference is peer and interaction characteristics between the siblings. With this said, parents must treat their children the same to help prevent differences in personality traits between their children.

Children’s moral emotions and moral cognition: Towards an integrative perspective
Malti, T., & Latzko, B. (2010). Children's moral emotions and moral cognition: Towards an integrative perspective. New Directions For Child & Adolescent Development, 2010(129), 1-10. doi:10.1002/cd.272

Abstract: This chapter presents a brief introduction to the developmental and educational literature linking children's moral emotions to cognitive moral development. A central premise of the chapter is that an integrative developmental perspective on moral emotions and moral cognition provides an important conceptual framework for understanding children's emerging morality and designing developmentally sensitive moral intervention strategies. The subsequent chapters present promising conceptual approaches and empirical evidence linking children's moral emotions to moral cognition. Examples of integrated educational interventions intended to enhance children's moral development are presented and discussed. © Wiley Periodicals, Inc. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Summary: This chapter reveals that children make moral judgments in situations that involve moral transgressions, and they anticipate the emotions of the people involved in the situation. Moral emotions are self- conscious; and children construct these moral judgments from an early stage in life, which results in the emotions of empathy. There needs to be a strong emphasize on cognitive moral growth, which relates to Kohlberg’s approach. Interactions and participation are important parts of teaching moral emotions.

Moral Disengagement Among Serious Juvenile Offenders: A Longitudinal Study of the Relations Between Morally Disengaged Attitudes and Offending

Shulman, E. P., Cauffman, E., Piquero, A. R., Fagan, J. (2011). Moral disengagement among serious juvenile offenders: A longitudinal study of the relations between morally disengaged attitudes and offending. Developmental Psychology. 47(6), 1619-1632.

The present study investigates the relation between moral disengagement—one’s willingness to conditionally endorse transgressive behavior—and ongoing offending in a sample of adolescent male felony offenders (N = 1,169). In addition, the study attempts to rule out callous– unemotional traits as a third variable responsible for observed associations between moral disengagement and offending. A bivariate latent change score analysis suggests that reduction in moral disengagement helps to speed decline in self-reported antisocial behavior, even after adjusting for the potential confound of callous– unemotional traits. Declines in moral disengagement are also associated with declining likelihood of offending, based on official records. Given that both moral disengagement and offending tend to decrease over time, these findings suggest that changing attitudes toward antisocial behavior contribute to desistance from offending among delinquent youth.

Moral disengagement is the fact that people create justifications for their actions that violate moral standards to avoid feeling shame and remorse (i.e. internal sanctions). The more often one rationalizes their behavior the more likely they are to develop a morally disengaged attitude. Moral disengagement has shown to both correlate with and predict juvenile offending. Callousness (unemotional) was found to be separate from moral disengagement. Therefore, this study shows that the attitude of moral disengagement can emerge from the following two sources: a history of disengaging internal sanctions (guilt and shame), or emotional dysfunction.

Ineffective Parenting and Childhood Conduct Problems: The Moderating Role of Callous – Unemotional Traits

Wootton, J. M., Frick, P. J., Shelton, K. K., & Silverthorn, P. (1997). Ineffective parenting and childhood conduct problems: The moderating role of callous – unemotional traits. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 65(2), p. 301-308.

A sample of 6- to 13-year-old clinic-referred (n = 136) and volunteer (n = 30) participants was investigated for a potential interaction between the quality of parenting that a child receives and callous–unemotional traits in the child for predicting conduct problems. Ineffective parenting was associated with conduct problems only in children without significant levels of callous (e.g., lack of empathy, manipulativeness) and unemotional (e.g., lack of guilt, emotional constrictedness) traits. In contrast, children high on these traits exhibited a significant number of conduct problems, regardless of the quality of parenting they experiences. Results are interpreted in the context of a model that proposed that callous–unemotional traits designate a group of children with conduct problems who have distinct causal factors involved in the development of their problematic behavior.

This study considers a two-factor model of psychopathy which includes: interpersonal characteristics (superficial charm, callous use of others, absence of empathy) and emotional style (absence of guilt, shallow emotions, lack of anxiety). The authors propose that temperamental style is a factor in a child’s responsiveness to cues of punishment. The temperamental style they believe to be associated with callous-unemotional (CU) traits includes a lack of fearful inhibitions. Not all children who show conduct problems show CU traits, and this study considers a specific group of CU children who develop such problems unique from other children with conduct concerns. The authors consider parental socialization practices as most causal for the development of conduct problems.

Measuring Moral Progress: A neo-Kohlbergian Approach and Two Case Studies
Minnameier, G. (2009). Measuring moral progress: A neo-kohlbergian approach and two case studies.
Journal of Adult Development, 16,131–143

Abstract: The study provides an in-depth analysis of two young adult subjects from a longitudinal study who underwent successive and significant developmental changes. Their developmental patterns, however, are only revealed by a new conception of moral stages, which is both more comprehensive and more detailed than Kohlberg’s original approach. In particular, the suggested alternative taxonomy neatly accommodates what appears as developmental anomalies in the Kohlbergian frame of
reference. What is more, apart from merely matching with the observed data, the new theory also explains why the subjects developed the way they did, since it reveals the inherent cognitive conflicts at each stage and how these are resolved at the following one. Although the theory stands against the Kohlberg theory as it is, it may be understood as an extension and further development of the latter, in the sense that Kohlbergian stages are differentiated, supplemented, and theoretically substantiated within the new framework. (Abstract from author)

Summary: This article looks at two longitudinal studies and evaluates them through a theory that is an extension of Kohlberg’s work. It also overlaps and prove useful when discussing the stages of moral development in this question.

The Role of Birth Order in Personality: An Enduring Intellectual Legacy of Alfred Adler
Eckstein, D., & Kaufman, J. A. (2012). The role of birth order in personality: An enduring intellectual legacy of alfred adler. Journal of Individual Psychology, 68(1), 60-74.
The authors contend that two of the most important contributions of Alfred Adler to the behavioral sciences were the projective use of early recollections and the role of birth order as they both affect one's personality. One purpose of this article is to provide an overview of several developmental issues that arise within the broader context of a family systems approach and its implications on various individuals. Another purpose is to present an empirical case for statistically significant studies showing birth order differences. The article is divided into the following topics: an introduction and overview of background issues, birth order research and research issues, recommendations for future research, and clinical implications for behavioral scientists. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Summary: This article describes previous research I the areas of personality and birth order. The researchers also conducted surveys and interviews to test these theories. They offer lists of personality traits for oldest, middle and youngest children in families.

32. Factors Contributing to Academic Achievement and Moral Development: A Qualitative Study

Sumari, M., Hussin, Z., & Siraj, S. (2010). Factors Contributing to Academic Achievement and Moral Development: A Qualitative study. International Journal Of Research & Review, 5(2), 18-23.

Abstract: This study investigated factors that contribute to children's academic achievement and high moral values from parents' perspectives. Parents whose children are high achievers and show high religious commitment were interviewed. Analysis indicated that are "genetic", "commitment", "positive perception", and "religiosity" contribute to children's academic achievement. Implications for research are discussed. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Summary: This article shows the mother in this situation what other parents believe helped their children succeed academically and morally. This will give her an example of what needs to be worked on and what needs to be changed so that all three children are able to live up to the capability that she would like. This also gives other tidbits that could show the mother that other families are similar to hers, and that there is nothing to worry about. As the findings show, the most important thing that parents need to be is dedicated and committed to their adolescent to ensure that they are both morally and academically successful.

III. ADDITIONAL RESOURCES (Video clips, podcasts, lectures, etc.)

  1. Maggio, R. (2012). Cognitive development and moral development in adolescents [Web]. Retrieved from
    Cognitive Development and Morality

    This presentation done my Maggio, a world history teacher, is a clear and helpful presentation of the development of morality throughout adolescence. She emphasizes Kolhberg's theory throughout her presentation. She points out that if someone is to develop beyond Kolhberg's stage 4 it is usually going to happen during adolescence. It is also important to note that some people never move past stage 4. Some people are not able to see past the rules of society and look at the more universal principles of ethics and justice. The adolescents that do start to advance towards stages 5 & 6 are able to do this because they have the ability to think abstractly. They begin to see things through different perspectives and other people's points of view. This cognitive ability is essential for the development of a higher level of morality.
  2. BOOK: Theories of Development: “Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development”
    Crain, W. C. (1985). Theories of development. (pp. 118-136). Prentice-Hall. Retrieved from

    The Stage Concept

    Level 1. Preconventional Morality
    Stage 1. Obedience and Punishment Orientation
    Stage 2. Individualism and Exchange
    Level 2. Conventional Morality
    Stage 3. Good Interpersonal Relationships
    Stage 4. Maintaining the Social Order
    Level 3. Postconventional Morality
    Stage 5. Social Contract and Individual Right
    Stage 6. Universal Principles
At stage 1 children think of what is right as that which authority says is right. Doing the right thing is obeying authority and avoiding punishment. At stage 2, children are no longer so impressed by any single authority; they see that there are different sides to any issue. Since everything is relative, one is free to pursue one's own interests, although it is often useful to make deals and exchange favors with others.
At stages 3 and 4, young people think as members of the conventional society with its values, norms, and expectations. At stage 3, they emphasize being a good person, which basically means having helpful motives toward people close to one At stage 4, the concern shifts toward obeying laws to maintain society as a whole.
At stages 5 and 6 people are less concerned with maintaining society for it own sake, and more concerned with the principles and values that make for a good society. At stage 5 they emphasize basic rights and the democratic processes that give everyone a say, and at stage 6 they define the principles by which agreement will be most just.
Moral Thought and Moral Behavior
Kohlberg's scale has to do with moral thinking, not moral action. As a general hypothesis, he proposes that moral behavior is more consistent, predictable. and responsible at the higher stages (Kohlberg et al., 1975), because the stages themselves increasingly employ more stable and general standards. For example, whereas stage 3 bases decisions on others' feelings, which can vary, stage 4 refers to set rules and laws. Thus, we can expect that moral behavior, too, will become more consistent as people move up the sequence.

Hyde, L., Shaw, D., & Moilanen, K. (2009). Developmental precursors of moral disengagement and the role of moral disengagement in the development of antisocial behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. doi 10.1007/s10802-009-9358-5

Abstract The purpose of the study was to advance our understanding of the developmental precursors of Moral Disengagement (MD) and the role of MD in the development of antisocial behavior from early risk among an ethnically diverse sample of 187 low-income boys followed prospectively from ages 1.5 to 17. Results indicated associations between early rejecting parenting, neighborhood impoverishment, and child empathy and later MD. The link between some of these early constructs and later antisocial behavior was mediated by MD. Finally, in an exploratory path model both MD and biases in social
information processing were found to mediate separate paths from early risk factors to later antisocial behavior. Results were partially consistent with the notion that adolescent MD was predicted by a combination of early family, neighborhood, and child risk factors, and that MD may be a mechanism underlying some boys’ risk of antisocial behavior.

Character Crew: Develop Moral Character
A website that provides resources and activities to help build morals.
Developing Moral Character

For all sections, please be sure to include relevant and correctly formatted citations.