Advertisement

The Psychological Record

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 29–34 | Cite as

Physiological Responsivity to a Socially Stressful Situation: The Effect of Level of Moral Development

  • Steven G. Gray
  • Howard H. Hughes
  • Lawrence J. Schneider
Article
  • 1 Downloads

Abstract

The present study sought to determine whether or not a personality variable, the level of moral development, was related to the way in which individuals respond to socially taboo words. As a result of their responses to a moral judgment questionnaire based on Kohlberg’s theory of moral development, 28 participants were assigned to one of two groups: (a) the conventional level group (Stages 3 and 4), a level that is desirous of maintaining social mores for their own sake, and (b) the postconventional level group (Stage 6), a mentality that emphasizes one’s own autonomy with regard to the adherence to social rules. Participants’ galvanic skin responses were assessed while they viewed 18 socially taboo and neutral words presented sequentially via a memory drum. As expected, participants’ GSRs to taboo words were significantly greater than their responses to neutral words, p <.05. Additionally, as hypothesized, the conventional level participants demonstrated significantly greater GSRs to socially taboo words than did the more morally autonomous postconventional participants. These findings support Kohlberg’s theory. Some practical applications of the present study are also discussed.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. ALSTON, W.P. 1971. Comments on Kohlberg’s ‘From is to ought’. In T. Mischel (Ed.), Cognitive development and epistemology. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  2. BRUNER, J.S., & POSTMAN, L. 1947. Emotional selectivity in perception and reaction. Journal of Personality, 16, 69–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. DURKHEIM, E. 1953. Sociology and philosophy. Glencoe, Illinois: Free Press.Google Scholar
  4. ERIKSEN, C.W. 1951. Perceptual defense as a function of unacceptable needs. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 46, 557–564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. FREUD, S. 1959. Collected papers (Vol. 1). New York: Basic Books.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. GOLDIAMOND, I. 1958. Indicators of perception: I. Subliminal perception, subception, unconscious perception: An analysis in terms of psychophysical indicator methodology. Psychological Bulletin, 55, 373–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. GRAY, S.G. 1977. Level of moral development as a related factor to emotional response intensity. Unpublished master’s thesis, East Texas State University.Google Scholar
  8. HALL, R.T., & DAVIS, J.V. 1975. Moral education in theory and practice. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus.Google Scholar
  9. KOHLBERG, L. 1964. Development of moral character and moral ideology. In M.L. Hoffman & L.W. Hoffman (Eds.), Review of child development research. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  10. KOHLBERG, L. 1969. Stages in the development of moral thought and action. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.Google Scholar
  11. KUHN, D. 1976. Short-term longitudinal evidence for the sequentiality of Kohlberg’s early stages of moral judgment. Developmental Psychology, 12, 162–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. KURTINES, W., & GRIEF, E.B. 1974. The development of moral thought: Review and evaluation of Kohlberg’s work. Psychological Bulletin, 81, 453–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. McGINNIES, E. 1949. Emotionality and perceptual defense. Psychological Bulletin, 56, 244–251.Google Scholar
  14. NOTHMAN, F.H. 1962. The influence of response conditions on recognition thresholds for taboo words. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 65, 154–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. PIAGET, J. 1948. The moral judgment of the child. Glencoe, Illinois: Free Press.Google Scholar
  16. POSTMAN, L., BRUNER, J.S., & McGINNIES, E. 1948. Personal values as selective factors in perception. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 43, 142–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. TURIEL, E. 1973. Stage transition in moral development. In R. Travers (Ed.), Second handbook of research on teaching. Chicago: Rand McNally.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven G. Gray
    • 1
  • Howard H. Hughes
    • 1
  • Lawrence J. Schneider
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNorth Texas State UniversityDentonUSA

Personalised recommendations