Sex Roles

, Volume 15, Issue 11, pp 645–653

Gender differences in moral reasoning

  • Mary K. Rothbart
  • Dean Hanley
  • Marc Albert

DOI: 10.1007/BF00288220

Cite this article as:
Rothbart, M.K., Hanley, D. & Albert, M. Sex Roles (1986) 15: 645. doi:10.1007/BF00288220


This research tests Gilligan's hypothesis that men are more likely to consider moral dilemmas chiefly in terms of justice and individual rights, whereas women are more likely to be chiefly concerned with questions of care and relationships with others. In addition, we have investigated the effects of dilemma content upon orientation of moral judgment. Protocols from interviews with 50 college students, half women and half men, to three moral dilemmas were coded according to moral orientation. Results indicated that both moral orientations were widely used by both men and women, but that women were more likely to employ prodominantly care considerations. In a test of mean differences in proportion of justice responses, content of the specific moral dilemma showed a strong influence upon moral reasoning. Results suggest that both gender and situational factors need to be considered in our understanding of moral reasoning.

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary K. Rothbart
    • 1
  • Dean Hanley
    • 2
  • Marc Albert
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of OregonEugene
  2. 2.University of California at BerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.University of OregonUSA