Sequentiality and Consistency in the development of reflective judgment: A six-year longitudinal study

Karen Strohm Kitchener, Patricia M. King, Philip K. Wood, Mark L. Davison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


A number of models of young adult cognitive development postulate stage characteristics. However, with few exceptions, only weak stage-related claims have been tested. The primary purpose of this study was to evaluate the stage properties of the Reflective Judgment model using six-year longitudinal data on three groups of young adults. The secondary purpose was to examine cohort effects on Reflective Judgment scores. Kitchener and King's (1981) Reflective Judgment Interview (RJI) was used as a measure of Reflective Judgment. RJI mean scores increased significantly (p < .01), Davison's test of sequentiality (1979) supported the sequence of the model, stage reversals could be attributed to error, and, using a conservative definition, stage skipping occured in only 14% of the cases. The overall correlation between RJI score and age was .79. Subjects' modal score was consistent across problems 75% of the time. A cohort effect was also found. The data support the sequentiality of the Reflective Judgment stages and the consistency of subjects across problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-95
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1989

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data collection was supported in part by grants from the Spencer Foundation (to Karen Kitch-Prier), the College of Education and Allied Professions and the Faculty Research Committee, Bowling Green State University (to Pauicin King). The authors wish to thank Janice Thorn and Kathleen Ricer for their assistance with data collection. Portions of this paper were presented at the meeting of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, Canada, August 25, 1984. Correspondence and requests for reprints should be sent to Karen S. Kitcbener, School of Education, University of Denver, Denver, CO 80208.


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