Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. Philip A Vernon


Researchers have found that when individuals are faced with moral dilemmas, they tend to approach the situations with the same general perspective. This general perspective is referred to as their moral orientation. Studies have shown that moral orientations tend to be either justice or care focused. A justice orientation refers to a focus on rights, rules, and objective decision making. In contrast, individuals using a care orientation are more likely to consider relationships, contextual factors, and minimizing harm to others. Although numerous studies have reported individual differences in these orientations, the literature has failed to consider how individuals with “abnormal” moral development approach these dilemmas. As such, the goal of present study was to develop a measure of moral orientation that was able to capture adequately the orientations of those individuals with more maladaptive tendencies. This was achieved by assessing a novel moral orientation, termed self-promotion. After developing and administering this scale to two independent samples, a series of item analyses were conducted and items that failed to meet acceptable levels of psychometric criteria were deleted. The reduced scaled was factor analyzed and the results indicated three distinct care, justice, and self-promotion factors emerged for some scenarios, but not others, suggesting that further scale revisions are necessary. Despite some potentially problematic items, preliminary validity evidence was found, with significant correlations in the expected direction observed between each of the moral orientation dimensions and various Dark Triad and HEXACO personality traits.