MORAL JUDGMENTS OF RETARDED CHILDREN ATTENDING RELIGIOUS EDUCATION CLASSES
O'NEILL, WILLIAM LAWRENCE
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Mental retardation includes a significantly below-average intellectual and social functioning. These deficiencies affect the moral development of mentally retarded persons.;This study views moral development in terms of moral judgments made in the light of intentional or accidental behavior combined with larger or smaller consequences (damages and benefits). This method, used by Piaget, showed that older subjects base their moral judgments on intentionality and that younger subjects rely on amount of damage.;Mentally retarded children and adolescents with mental ages of six (6.0-6.6) and eight (8.1-8.6) and with chronological ages ranging from 9.2 to 13.9, who attended Catholic religion classes in the Midwest, were studied between 1976 and 1980.;Traditional and revised Piagetian-type stories were told to these subjects at the same time that pictures, depicting the sequence of the stories, were shown to them. The revised stories yielded more mature moral judgments than the traditional stories for those with a mental age of six, but not for those of eight. The revised stories contained different levels of outcomes for the stories with accidental behavior when compared to intentional stories with one level of outcome. Retarded subjects with a mental age of eight made more intentional judgments than those with a mental age of six when stories contained the smallest level of damage (level-1).;In the stories with undesirable outcomes, level-1 stories (smallest damage) elicited significantly more intentional judgments than level-3 stories (greatest damage). Retarded subjects with a mental age of six also made significantly more intentional judgments for level-2 (intermediate damage) than level-3 stories. Subjects with a mental age of eight made a greater percentage of intentionality-choices at level-1 than at level-2. The direction for all the levels compared, except that of the intermediate-desirable outcome (level-2) compared with highest desirable outcome (level-3) for those with mental age of 8, indicates that retarded subjects made more intentional responses to stories describing fewer consequences than to those with greater consequences.;In stories dealing with desirable outcomes, stories with less desirable outcomes elicited more intentional response than those dealing with more desirable outcomes.;The comparison of desirable and undesirable consequences pointed to two conclusions. First, that the traditional stories (Piaget), compared to the desirable outcome stories, did not show a significant difference. Second, when all levels of stories with desirable consequences were combined, the revised stories did show a significant difference. An analysis of the comparison of the individual levels of both types of stories (i.e., level 1 of desirable with level 1 of undesirable) also yielded significant differences at all three levels for mentally retarded subjects with the mental age of six, but only for level 1 for those with the mental age of eight.;The results were discussed in terms of the experience and language of the mentally retarded, as well as evaluation of damages and pictorial presentation. Finally, some implications are presented about the use of these findings in training mentally retarded children to make more mature moral judgments.
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