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Moral Reasoning of Students in Different Cultural, Social, and Educational Settings

Miriam Bar-Yam, Lawrence Kohlberg and Algiris Naame
American Journal of Education
Vol. 88, No. 3 (May, 1980), pp. 345-362
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1085057
Page Count: 18
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Moral Reasoning of Students in Different Cultural, Social, and Educational Settings
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Abstract

Cross-cultural research on the development of moral reasoning was carried out using about 115 adolescent subjects representing urban middle-class and lower-class, kibbutz-born and Youth Aliyah (disadvantaged urban youth educated in the kibbutz), Moslem and Christian Arab groups in Israel. Kohlberg's moral dilemmas were used to determine levels of moral reasoning, and the data analysis was done in terms of his six moral stages. Analysis of variance was used to determine whether differences between groups were significant. The results indicate the following. (1) The level of moral reasoning of kibbutz-born youth was higher than that of the other groups studied. (2) Middle-class and Youth Aliyah samples showed higher level of moral reasoning than lower-class samples. Youth Aliyah students, whose origin was urban lower class, had a level of moral reasoning almost a full stage higher than the comparable lower-class students. (3) The Christian and Moslem Arab middle-class samples showed similar levels of moral reasoning to the Turkish middle class, the Oriental Jewish lower class, and the American lower working class. (4) Moslem girls showed a lower level of moral reasoning than either the Moslem boys or the Christian Arab girls under study. (5) No significant differences in level of moral reasoning were found between males and females of the kibbutz sample. Interviews with educators of the various groups revealed that (1) kibbutz educators stressed democratic processes, sexual equality, mutual responsibility, and active decision making by kibbutz children; (2) teachers of the Arab students pointed out that although the Moslems and Christian Arab samples were of similar socioeconomic background and similar ability level the cultural-religious differences had an effect on their school behavior and social participation. Hence, it seems that differences in levels of moral reasoning could be related to differences in cultural background and educational experiences.

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