The relationship between moral decision making and patterns of consolidation and transition in moral judgment development

Dev Psychol. 1999 Mar;35(2):323-34. doi: 10.1037//0012-1649.35.2.323.


Following models that describe intraindividual correlates of stage transitions (S. S. Snyder & D. H. Feldman, 1984), this study assessed the relation between a measure of consolidation and transition in moral judgment development and the utility of moral concepts in sociomoral decision making. The study extends previous research in suggesting that individuals use moral concepts differently as they cycle through periods of consolidation and transition. With multiple cross-sectional and longitudinal samples, findings indicate that participants' reliance on a Kohlbergian moral framework as measured by the Defining Issues Test is highest during periods of consolidation and lowest during transitions. As participants move into periods of consolidation, the utility of moral stage information increases. Thus, this study indicates that the consolidation and transition model can be used to help identify individuals who are more or less likely to use Kohlberg's moral stages in their moral decision making.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Morals*