Gender difference in ethical abilities of dental students

Di You, Muriel J. Bebeau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Walker's comprehensive review of claims of gender difference and gender bias in moral cognition concluded 1) that gender explains a negligible amount of the variability in moral reasoning development, 2) that accumulated evidence does not support claims of gender polarity in moral orientations (i.e., an ethic of care and an ethic of justice), and 3) that future research should focus on the range of psychological processes that engender moral maturity. This study examined whether male and female predoctoral dental students who completed an ethics curriculum grounded in Rest's comprehensive model of moral functioning differed on measures of four capacities: moral sensitivity, moral reasoning, moral motivation, and moral implementation. From archival data at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, data on sixty females and sixty males were randomly selected from five cohorts (n=386) who completed an ethics curriculum and outcome measures of the four capacities between 1996 and 2000. Gender differences were not apparent for a measure of moral sensitivity, but were evident for one of the moral reasoning indices, for the responsibility dimension of moral motivation, and for the measure of moral implementation. Implications are drawn for future research and for professional ethics education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1137-1149
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012


  • Dental students
  • Ethics education
  • Gender difference
  • Morality
  • Professionalism


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