A longitudinal study of moral and ego development in young adults

Karen Strohm Kitchener, Patricia M. King, Mark L. Davison, Clyde A. Parker, Phillip K. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to investigate the longitudinal changes in moral judgment and ego development in a young adult sample when a concurrent measure of verbal ability was used as a statistical control. Sixty-one late adolescents and young adults, representing three educational groups, were tested in 1977 and 1979 on the Defining Issues Tests, a measure of moral judgment (Rest), the Sentence Completion Test of Ego Development (Loevinger and Wessler) and Terman's Concept Mastery Test, a measure of verbal ability. No group or time differences were found in ego development. A significant increase was found between the 1977 and 1979 moral judgment scores, p<0.05, and between groups at both testing, p<0.001. Sex differences were found, p<0.01, with females scoring higher than males, which were statistically accounted for by verbal ability. These findings suggest that moral development continues into the young adult years and that verbal ability may moderate sex differences in moral judgment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-211
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 1984

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