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Age Trends in Judging Moral Issues: A Review of Cross-Sectional, Longitudinal, and Sequential Studies of the Defining Issues Test

James R. Rest, Mark L. Davison and Steven Robbins
Child Development
Vol. 49, No. 2 (Jun., 1978), pp. 263-279
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1128688
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1128688
Page Count: 17
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Age Trends in Judging Moral Issues: A Review of Cross-Sectional, Longitudinal, and Sequential Studies of the Defining Issues Test
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Abstract

Cross-sectional data on several thousand high school, college, and graduate students from all regions of the United States show striking differences on the Defining Issues Test (DIT) when grouped by age-education level. Adults show stronger positive relationships with years of education than with chronological age. Longitudinal studies show that individuals over 2- and 4-year intervals generally show decreases in lower stages and increases in higher stages. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies suggest a general plateau in development in early adulthood and after formal education. Sequential studies indicate that generational effects do not account for age trends. Similarly, sampling biases and testing effects do not seem to be serious artifacts. The evidence supports Kohlberg's general model of moral development and the validity of the DIT as an assessment instrument.

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