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Friday, January 8, 2016

Moral Reasoning and Personal Behavior: A Meta-Analytical Review

By Villegas de Posada, Cristina; Vargas-Trujillo, Elvia
Review of General Psychology, Vol 19(4), Dec 2015, 408-424.


The meta-analysis examined the effect of moral development on 4 domains of action (real life, honesty, altruism, and resistance to conformity), and on action in general. The database, comprised by 151 studies across 71 years, stemmed from a previous narrative synthesis conducted by Blasi (1980), updated with studies published up to 2013. Results showed that (a) moral development was significantly related to action in general and to each domain, (b) the effect sizes were similar for altruism, real life, and resistance to conformity, with coefficients higher than r = .20, (c) the effect size for honesty was lower than for the other 3 types of behaviors, and (d) demographic or methodological variables did not affect the association between moral development and action. Discussion centers on similarities among domains of action, perfect and imperfect duties, and the need for other constructs to account for moral action.

Here is an excerpt:

Morality is essential to social life, and moral decisions and actions are the expression of this morality. They are linked to our rational ability to judge and make decisions. Although this link may seem obvious to many psychologists, it has been denied by influential scholars in psychology and philosophy, who come from different streams of a noncognitive tradition. Moral reasoning has a consistent effect on action, across domains, age, sex, and methodological approaches, an effect that cannot be minimized. This effect, on the range of medium rather than low, indicates that the strategy of promoting moral reasoning to enhance morality is a sound strategy and a way to overcome immorality and moral indifference.

The article is here.