Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 596–609 | Cite as

The Moral Reasoning of Genetic Dilemmas Amongst Jewish Israeli Undergraduate Students with Different Religious Affiliations and Scientific Backgrounds

  • Merav SianiEmail author
  • Orit Ben-Zvi Assaraf
Original Research


The main objective of this study was to shed light on the moral reasoning of undergraduate Israeli students towards genetic dilemmas, and on how these are affected by their religious affiliation, by the field they study and by their gender. An open ended questionnaire was distributed among 449 undergraduate students in institutions of higher education in Israel, and their answers were analyzed according to the framework described by Sadler and Zeidler (Science Education, 88(1), 4–27, 2004). They were divided into two major categories: those whose reasoning was based on the consideration of moral consequences (MC), and those who supported their opinion by citing non-consequentialist moral principles (MP). Students’ elaborations to questions dealing with values towards genetic testing showed a correlation between the students’ religious affiliation and their reasoning, with religious students’ elaborations tending to be more principle based than those of secular ones. Overall, the students’ elaborations indicate that their main concern is the possibility that their personal genetic information will be exposed, and that their body’s personal rights will be violated. We conclude the paper by offering several practical recommendations based on our findings for genetic counseling that is specifically tailored to fit different patients according to their background.


Moral reasoning Genetic dilemma Undergraduate students Decision making Religious affiliation Genetic testing Qualitative analysis 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


No grants or funding obtained for this study.

Conflict of Interest

Merav Siani and Orit Ben-Zvi Assaraf declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human Studies and Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 (5). Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Animal Studies

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

Supplementary material

10897_2015_9918_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 16 kb)
10897_2015_9918_MOESM2_ESM.docx (29 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 28 kb)


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Science and Technology Education DepartmentBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeer ShevaIsrael

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