The independence of James Rest's components of morality: evidence from a professional ethics curriculum study

Di You, Muriel J. Bebeau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Rest's hypothesis that the components of morality (i.e., sensitivity, reasoning, motivation, and implementation) are distinct from one another was tested using evidence from a dental ethics curriculum that uses well-validated measures of each component. Archival data from five cohorts (n = 385) included the following: (1) transcribed responses to a measure of ethical sensitivity collected at the end of the third year; (2) pre- and post-test moral judgment scores; (3) pre- and post-test motivation scores; and (4) implementation scores - performance on eight cases completed during the third and fourth years. Because the ethical sensitivity test had been scored by multiple raters, and interrater reliability did not meet acceptable standards, 120 portfolios were randomly selected from the five cohorts and responses were rescored prior to analysis. Correlations among the measures were low, ranging from -.08 to.34, supporting Rest's contention that the processes are distinct from one another and competence in one does not predict competence in another. The findings have implications for moral and character education programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-216
Number of pages15
JournalEthics and Education
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013

Keywords

  • moral implementation
  • moral motivation
  • moral reasoning
  • moral sensitivity
  • professional ethics

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