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Moral judgment in relation to behavioral and cognitive disorders in adolescents


The capacity for formulating moral judgments shown by 20 emotionally disturbed, cognitively delayed adolescents was related to their social behaviors as observed in a classroom situation. Adolescents reported by their teachers to be shy and submissive were less capable of reasoning about moral issues than were adolescents who were seen as more assertive and socially engaged. The level of moral judgment was not a function of intelligence or ability to understand concrete operations. The implication that social engagement is a critical determinant of moral judgment for these adolescents is discussed.

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Author information

Correspondence to Dr. Marian Sigman.

Additional information

We are indebted to the staff of Ward 6-West of the Neuropsychiatrie Institute, whose cooperation in this research was essential. We would like particularly to thank Barbara Linden and Carol Essey, who filled out the Conners teacher ratings. Al Erdynast, Ph.D, scored the Moral Judgment Interviews. Data analysis was carried out by Delores Adams, and Luisa Castillo prepared the manuscript.

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Sigman, M., Ungerer, J.A. & Russell, A. Moral judgment in relation to behavioral and cognitive disorders in adolescents. J Abnorm Child Psychol 11, 503–511 (1983).

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  • Social Behavior
  • Moral Judgment
  • Social Engagement
  • Critical Determinant
  • Moral Issue