Assessing the Structure of Moral Intuitions in Early Adolescence
Bretl, Brandon L
University of Kansas
Psychology & Research in Education
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This dissertation sought to test the psychometric validity of assessing adolescent moral intuitions using the Character Foundations Survey (CFS). The CFS was developed using a theoretical structure based on moral foundations theory (MFT), and previous research validated its use in assessing adult populations. Results presented here suggest the CFS was able to only partially capture the structure of moral intuitions in early adolescents. MFT factors of animal physical, autonomy, and loyalty retained their structure while ratings of other items seemed to be more influenced by affective factors rather than the categorical domain distinctions that characterized the structure of adult moral intuitions. A new instrument was developed based on these three factors, the 3-Factor Character Foundations Survey (CFS-3). A multi-group confirmatory factor analysis was used to search for latent factor mean differences between several age and sex groups using the CFS-3. Results indicated that 11-12-year-old females had higher factor means in all three latent factors when compared to 11-12-year-old males. Eleven-12-year-old males showed no difference in latent factor means when compared to 13-14-year-old males. However, the latent factor mean of the loyalty factor of 13-14-year-old females was significantly less than the latent factor mean of 11-12-year-old females—resulting in no difference in latent factor mean between 13-14-year-old females and 13-14-year-old males in that factor. Thirteen-14-year-old females retained higher latent factor means in the animal physical and autonomy factors when compared to 13-14-year-old males. An attempt is made to explain these results based on theory from adolescent moral development research, and possible future directions are discussed.
- Dissertations 
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