The relationship between moral reasoning and perceptions of family functioning during adolescence

Moodley, Trevor (2003-03)

Thesis (MEdPsych)--Stellenbosch University, 2003.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study focused on the moral development of adolescents, their perceptions of their families' functioning in terms of various dimensions and the relationship between these perceptions and adolescents' levels of moral development. The research group comprised of 268 learners attending an Afrikaans secondary school. All the participants had Afrikaans as their first language and they were catergorised into two age cohorts; namely the 13/14-yearolds and the 17/18-year-olds. Gender was also represented in the study. The participants' levels of moral reasoning were measured by the Menings oor Sosiale Optrede Vraelys (MOSOV), an unstandardised instrument that was formulated in terms of Kohlberg's cognitive-developmental theory of moral development. This instrument consisted of six moral dilemmas. According to Kohlberg's theory moral development is culturally universal and follows an invariant sequence of stages. Furthermore, moral judgment takes place on three levels, the pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional levels. The pre-conventional level usually develops during childhood, most adolescents and adults will only reach the conventional level and only a small percentage of adults will reach the postconventional level of moral reasoning. Participants' perceptions of family functioning were measured by the Family Functioning in Adolescence Questionnaire (FFAQ). This standardized instrument measures family functioning in terms of six dimensions, namely: structure, affect, communication, behaviour control, value transmission and external systems. The results for moral reasoning levels indicated that the post-conventional level was the most common level of moral reasoning used by participants (at least 56% of the time). This tendency was represented for both age and gender variables within the research group. The second most common level of moral reasoning was the conventional level. Only a small representation of the pre-conventional level occurred. The results were inconsistent with Kohlberg's theory in terms of the proportional representation of the three levels. The results for participants' perceptions of their families' functioning indicated that their perceptions of family functioning for each of the dimensions, was mainly average (mean stanine scores of 4-6 were obtained). Significant mean differences between the various research groupings were also found for some of the dimensions. The results indicated that only two of the MOSOV's moral dilemmas correlated significantly with some of the family functioning dimension mean scores. One was a positive correlation whilst the other was a negative correlation. The general absence of significant relationships and the presence of a significantly negative correlation between moral reasoning levels and perceptions of family functioning was inconsistent with the literature that generally supports the view that a positive relationship exists between family functioning and moral development of the adolescent. A secondary focus was to measure the construct validity and reliability of the MOSOV instrument for this study, since this was an unstandardised instrument. The results showed that construct validity was present but reliability was not high enough. The results of the study therefore need to be treated with circumspect.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie het gefokus op die morele ontwikkeling van adolessente, hul persepsies van hoe hul gesinne funksioneer in terme van verskeie dimensies, asook die verband tussen hierdie persepsies en die vlakke van morele ontwikkeling wat by adolessente voorkom. Die ondersoekgroep het uit 268 leerders bestaan, wat almal verbonde is aan dieselfde sekondêre skool. Die deelnemers wat almal Afrikaans eerste taal-gebruikers is, is in twee ouderdomsgroepe verdeel, naamlik: die 13/14 jariges en die 17/18 jariges. Geslag is ook in die studie verteenwoordig. Die deelnemers se vlakke van morele ontwikkeling is met behulp van die Menings oor Sosiale Optrede Vraelys (MOSOV) gemeet - 'n nie-gestandaardiseerde instrument wat op grond van Kohlberg se kognitiewe-ontwikkelingsteorie van morele ontwikkeling geformuleer is. Hierdie instrument bestaan uit ses morele dilemmas. Volgens Kohlberg se teorie is morele ontwikkeling kultureel universeel en verloop volgens 'n reeks onveranderlike stadia. Daarbenewens geskied morele oordeel op drie vlakke, naamlik: die voor-konvensionele, konvensionele en na-konvensionele vlakke. Die voor-konvensionele ontwikkelingsvlak ontwikkel gewoonlik tydens die kinderjare, terwyl die meeste adolessente en volwassenes die konvensionele vlak bereik en slegs 'n klein persentasie volwassenes bereik gewoonlik die na-konvensionele vlak van morele redenering. Die deelnemers se persepsies van gesinsfunksionering is met behulp van Die Vraelys vir Gesinsfunksionering gedurende Adolessensie (VGFA) gemeet. Hierdie gestandaardiseerde instrument kan gebruik word om gesinfunksionering in terme van ses dimensies te meet, naamlik: struktuur, affek, kommunikasie, gedragsbeheer, waarde-oordrag en eksterne sisteme. Die bevindinge ten opsigte van die morele redeneringsvlakke het aangedui dat die nakonvensionele vlak die algemeenste voorkom en in hierdie ondersoek deur die meeste deelnemers gebruik is (ten minste in 56% van die gevalle). Hierdie neiging was opvallend ten opsigte van beide ouderdom- en geslagsveranderlikes in die ondersoekgroep. Die vlak van morele redenering wat die tweede meeste voorgekom het, is die konvensionele vlak, terwyl die gebruik van die voor-konvensionele vlak die minste voorgekom het. Dié bevindinge was teenstrydig met Kohlberg se teorie in terme van die proporsionele verteenwoordiging van die drie vlakke. Die bevindinge ten opsigte van die deelnemers se persepsies van hul gesinne se funksionering dui daarop dat hul persepsies vir elke dimensie hoofsaaklik gemiddeld is (gemiddelde stanegetellings van 4 - 6 is behaal). Wat sommige van die dimensies betref, het daar ook betekenisvolle verskille tussen die gemiddelde tellings van die subgroepe voorgekom. Slegs twee van die MOSOV se morele dilemmas dui op 'n betekenisvolle verband met sommige van die dimensies van gesinsfunksionering se gemiddelde tellings. Die een dilemma dui op 'n positiewe verband, terwyl die ander een op 'n negatiewe verband dui. Die algemene afwesigheid van betekenisvolle verbande en die voorkoms van 'n betekenisvolle negatiewe verband tussen morele redeneringsvlakke en persepsies van gesinsfunksionering, ondersteun nie die literatuur nie, in terme waarvan 'n positiewe verband tussen gesinsfunksionering en morele ontwikkeling by adolessente verwag sou word. 'n Sekondêre fokus van die studie was om die konstrukgeldigheid en die betroubaarheid van die MOSOV instrument met betrekking tot hierdie ondersoek te bepaal, aangesien dit 'n niegestandaardiseerde instrument is. Die ondersoek se resultate dui op die aanwesigheid van konstrukgeldigheid, maar dat die betroubaarheid daarvan nie baie hoog is nie. Daarom moet die resultate van hierdie studie met omsigtigheid hanteer word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/53673
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