Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Moral judgment has been a popular area of interest over the past few decades as researchers have begun to consider adults' perceptions of the moral reasoning abilities of others. The present thesis provided an extension to this previous research and considered adults' awareness of young children's moral judgment skills.;The first study examined adults' predictions of moral reasoning for different-aged children. Adults' prescriptions for advice they would offer to teach moral reasoning were also assessed at three age levels. Comparisons revealed that the adults were able to predict the moral performance of the children. Their prescriptions, however, did not reflect an awareness of developmental differences in moral reasoning. Recommendations for advice were consistent with adult levels of functioning.;A second study examined the actual reasoning level of 4th grade children. Comparisons with the predictions in Study 1 indicated that the adults were accurate relative to the moral reasoning of 4th graders. The majority of their prescriptions, however, were significantly higher than the children's reasoning levels, and thus, would not be considered good moral advice according to suggested moral education strategies.;Predictions and prescriptions of elementary teachers were assessed in a third study to determine if direct experience with children improved moral advice-giving ability. Teachers, however, prescribed advice at their own level of moral understanding. Their predictions reflected an awareness of developmental differences in reasoning, yet their prescriptions were above the level of comprehension for 4th graders.;The teachers' poor advice-giving abilities were discussed in terms of a lack of knowledge concerning moral theory and moral education strategies. This hypothesis was examined in a final study. Adults received either no training or training in moral theory or moral theory plus moral education. Their predictions and prescriptions for 4th graders were assessed one week following the training sessions. Results indicated that only those individuals who participated in the combined training procedure evidenced appropriate moral advice for 4th grade children. Subjects in the remaining conditions prescribed advice at a level above that of 4th graders. Educational applications of this finding and suggestions for future research are discussed.
Bryant, Susan Louise, "Perceptions Of Children's Moral Reasoning" (1987). Digitized Theses. 1648.