SEX DIFFERENCES AND PROBLEMATIC PATTERNS OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT SCORES
DUFFY, JANICE BLAKE
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This dissertation was designed to demonstrate that the scheme of moral development described by William Perry (1970) is less sex-biased than that described by Lawrence Kohlberg (1969). Recent research was found that women's scores on Kohlberg's measure of moral development tend to be lower than those of men. It was hypothesized that scales developed to measure the Perry scheme would yield equal scores for men and women.;Carol Gilligan (1982) suggests that men and women have different perspectives on moral issues. Men are concerned with equality of rights; women are concerned with responsibility and care. Gilligan implies this is the underlying cause of sex differences in moral development scores. It was hypothesized that Kohlberg scores for subjects emphasizing responsibility ethics would be lower than Kohlberg scores for subjects emphasizing rights ethics.;A cross-sectional sample of two males and two females at each of nine ages ranging from 6 to 65, which had been collected by Gilligan and Murphy (1978), was re-analyzed. Perry moral development scores were evaluated using two new manuals and then compared. These "Perry scores" were compared to scores evaluated with Kohlberg's revised manual. Two of Kohlberg's hypothetical moral dilemmas were used to evaluate moral development. Subjects were also asked to describe a "real-life" moral dilemma which was used to sort them into two groups: one which emphasized rights and one which emphasized responsibility in making moral judgments.;On Kohlberg's measure of moral development, females were scored lower than males, whereas scores based on Perry's theoretical model resulted in an equal range of scores for both males and females.;Subjects were sorted into the rights and responsibility groups blind to age and sex. No differences were found between moral development scores of rights subjects as compared to responsibility subjects. This was due to an unexpected age trend in the results. There were a greater number of responsibility subjects among the oldest age groups and a greater number of rights subjects among the youngest age groups. This age trend supports Gilligan's notion that responsibility ethics should be included in our description of adult moral thinking and studied in greater depth.