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Mendola, PhD
Touro College 1
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Chapter 7: Moral Development, Values, and Religion
Outline

• Domains of Moral Development


– Moral Thought
– Moral Behavior
– Moral Feeling
– Moral Personality
• Contexts of Moral Development
– Parenting
– Schools
• Values, Religion, and Spirituality
– Values
– Religion and Spirituality
2
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Preview

• Moral development involves the distinction between


what is right and wrong, what matters to people, and
what people should do in their interactions with others
• We begin with the three main traditional domains of
moral development – moral thoughts, behavior, and
feeling – and the recent emphasis on moral personality
• Next, we explore the contexts in which moral
development takes place, focusing on families and school
• We conclude with an examination of adolescent values,
religion, and spirituality

3
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Domains of Moral Development

• Moral Thought
– Kohlberg’s Stages
– Influences on the Kohlberg Stages
– Why is Kohlberg’s Theory Important for Understanding
Moral Development in Adolescence?
– Kohlberg’s Critics
– Social Conventional Reasoning

4
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Domains of Moral Development

• Moral Behavior
– Basic Processes
– Social Cognitive Theory of Moral Development
– Prosocial Behavior
• Moral Feeling
– Psychoanalytic Theory
– Empathy
– The Contemporary Perspective

5
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Domains of Moral Development

• Moral Personality
– Moral Identity
– Moral Character
– Moral Exemplars

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Domains of Moral Development

• Moral development: Thoughts, behaviors, and feelings


regarding standards of right and wrong
– The intrapersonal dimension regulates a person’s activities
when she or he is not engaged in social interaction
– The interpersonal dimension regulates people’s social
interactions and arbitrates conflict
• How do adolescents reason, or think, about rules for
ethical conduct?
• How do adolescents actually behave in moral
circumstances?
• How do adolescents feel about moral matters?
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Moral Thought

• How do adolescents think about standards of right and


wrong?
• Piaget had some thoughts about this, but they applied to
children’s moral development
• Lawrence Kohlberg (1958, 1976, 1986) crafted a major
theory of how adolescents think about right and wrong
• He proposed that moral development is based primarily
on moral reasoning and unfolds in a series of stages

8
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Kohlberg’s Stages

• Central to Kohlberg’s work on moral development were


interviews with individuals of different ages
– In the interviews, individuals were presented with a series of
stories in which characters face moral dilemmas
– After reading the story, interviewees were asked a series of
questions about the moral dilemma

9
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Kohlberg’s Stages

• From the answers interviewees gave, Kohlberg


hypothesized three levels of moral development, each of
which is characterized by two stages
– A key concept in understanding progression through the
levels and stages is that their morality becomes more internal
or mature
– Their reasons for their moral decisions or values begin to go
beyond the external or superficial reasons they gave when
they were younger

10
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Figure 7.1

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Kohlberg’s Stages

• Level 1: Preconventional Reasoning – the lowest level


of moral development
– Stage 1. Punishment and obedience orientation
• Moral thinking is often tied to punishment
– Stage 2. Individualism, instrumental purpose, and
exchange
• Individuals pursue their own interests but also let others do the
same
• What is right involves an equal exchange

12
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Kohlberg’s Stages

• Level 2: Conventional Reasoning – intermediate level of


moral development at which individuals abide by certain
standards (internal), but they are the standards of others
(external), such as parents or the laws of society
– Stage 3. Mutual interpersonal expectations, relationships,
and interpersonal conformity
• Individuals value trust, caring, and loyalty to others as a basis of
moral judgments
• Children and adolescents often adopt their parents’ moral
standards at this stage
– Stage 4. Social systems morality
• Moral judgments are based on understanding the social order, law,
justice, and duty
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Kohlberg’s Stages

• Level 3: Postconventional Reasoning – the highest level


of moral development at which morality is more internal
• The individual recognizes alternative moral courses,
explores the options, and then decides on a personal
moral code
– Stage 5. Social contract or utility and individual rights
• A person evaluates the validity of actual law and examines social
systems in terms of the degree to which they preserve and protect
fundamental human rights and values
– Stage 6. Universal ethical principles
• The highest stage at which the person has developed a moral
standard based on universal human rights
14
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Figure 7.2

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Kohlberg’s Stages

• Most adolescents reason at stage 3


• By early adulthood, a small number of individuals reason
in postconventional ways
• In a 20-year longitudinal investigation (Colby & others,
1983)
– The moral stages appeared somewhat later than Kohlberg
initially envisioned
– The higher stages, especially stage 6 were extremely elusive

16
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Kohlberg’s Stages

• A review of data from 45 studies in 27 diverse world


cultures (Snarey, 1987)
– Provided support for the universality of Kohlberg’s first
four stages
– Suggested that stages 5 and 6 tend to vary across cultures

17
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Figure 7.3

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Influences on the Kohlberg Stages

• Kohlberg theorized that the individual’s moral orientation


unfolds as a consequence of cognitive development and
exposure to appropriate social experiences
– Moral thought can be moved to a higher level through exposure
to models or discussion that is more advanced than the
adolescent’s level

19
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Influences on the Kohlberg Stages

• Like Piaget, Kohlberg emphasized that peer interaction is


a critical part of the social stimulation that challenges
individuals to change their moral orientation
– Researchers have found that more advanced moral reasoning
takes place when peers engage in challenging, even moderately
conflicting, conversation (Berkowitz & Gibbs, 1983; Walker,
Hennig, & Krettenauer, 2000)

20
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Influences on the Kohlberg Stages

• Kohlberg did note that certain types of parent-child


experiences can induce the child and adolescent to think at
more advanced levels of moral reasoning
– Parents who allow or encourage conversation about value-
laden issues promote moral advanced moral thought
– Unfortunately, many parents do not systematically provide
their children and adolescents with such experiences
• In one study, children’s moral development was related to
their parents’ discussion style, which involved questioning
and supportive interaction (Walker & Taylor, 1991)

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Why is Kohlberg’s Theory Important for
Understanding Moral Development in Adolescence?

• Kohlberg’s theory is essentially a description of the


progressive conceptions people use to understand social
cooperation
• Such basic conceptions are fundamental to adolescents,
for whom ideology becomes important in guiding their
lives and making life decisions

22
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Kohlberg’s Critics

• Kohlberg’s theory has been criticized for placing too


much emphasis on moral thought and not enough
emphasis on moral behavior
– Moral reasons can always be a shelter for immoral behavior
• Researchers have found that less advanced moral
reasoning in adolescence is related to antisocial behavior
and delinquency (Gibbs, 2010; Taylor & Walker, 1997)

23
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Kohlberg’s Critics

• Some developmentalists fault the quality of Kohlberg’s


research and stress that more attention should be paid to
the way moral development is assessed
– James Rest (1986; Rest & others, 1999) argued that
alternative methods should be used to collect information
about moral thinking
• Rest developed his own measure called the Defining Issues Test
(DIT)
• Researchers have also found that the hypothetical moral
dilemmas posed in Kohlberg’s stories do not match the
moral dilemmas many children and adults face in their
everyday lives (Walker, de Vries, & Trevethan, 1987;
Yussen, 1977) 24
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Figure 7.4

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Kohlberg’s Critics

• Kohlberg emphasized that his stages of moral reasoning


are universal, but some critics claim his theory is
culturally biased (Gibbs, 2010; Miller, 2007)
– Stages 5 and 6 have not been found in all cultures (Gibbs &
others, 2007; Snarey, 1987)
• Kohlberg’s approach capture much – but not all – of the
moral reasoning voiced in various cultures around the
world; there are some important moral concepts in specific
cultures that his approach misses or misconstrues (Miller,
2007)

26
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Kohlberg’s Critics

• The most publicized criticism of Kohlberg’s theory has


come from of Carol Gilligan (1982, 1992, 1996)
– Gilligan argues that Kohlberg’s theory reflects a gender bias
– In contrast to Kohlberg’s justice perspective, Gilligan
argues for a care perspective, a moral perspective that
views people in terms of their connectedness with others
and emphasizes interpersonal communication, relationships
with others, and concern for others
• A meta-analysis casts doubt on Gilligan’s claim of
substantial gender differences in moral judgment (Jaffee &
Hyde, 2000)
27
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Social Conventional Reasoning

• Some theorists and researchers argue that Kohlberg did


not adequately distinguish between moral reasoning and
social conventional reasoning (Helwig & Turiel, 2011;
Smetana, 2006)
• Social conventional reasoning focuses on conventional
rules that have been established by social consensus in
order to control behavior and maintain the social system
– Conventional rules are arbitrary
• In contrast, moral reasoning focuses on ethical issues and
rules of morality
– Moral rules are not arbitrary
28
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Moral Behavior

• What are the basic processes that behaviorists believe are


responsible for adolescents’ moral behavior?
• How do social cognitive theorists view adolescents’
moral development?
• What is the nature of prosocial behavior?

29
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Basic Processes

• Reinforcement, punishment, and imitation have been


invoked to explain how and why adolescents learn certain
moral behaviors and why their behaviors differ from one
another (Grusec, 2006)
– The effectiveness of reinforcement and punishment depends
on how consistently they are administered and the schedule
that is adopted

30
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Basic Processes

– The effectiveness of modeling depends on the characteristics


of the model and the presence of cognitive processes to
enhance retention of the modeled behavior
• Adolescents are especially alert to adult hypocrisy, and
evidence indicates that they are right to believe that many
adults display a double standard (Bandura, (1991)

31
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Basic Processes

• Behaviorists also emphasize that moral behavior is


situationally dependent
– In a classic investigation, adolescents were more likely to
cheat when their friends pressured them to do so and when
the chance of being caught was slim (Hartshorne & May,
1928 – 1930)
– Other analyses suggest that some adolescents are more likely
to lie, cheat, and steal than others, an indication of more
consistency of moral behavior in some adolescents than in
others (Burton, 1984)

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Social Cognitive Theory of Moral
Development
• Emphasizes a distinction between adolescents’ moral
competence and moral performance (Mischel & Mischel,
1975)
– Moral competence: The ability to produce moral behaviors;
primarily an outgrowth of cognitive-sensory processes
– Moral performance: Performing those behaviors in specific
situations; determined by motivation and incentives to act in
a specific moral way

33
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Social Cognitive Theory of Moral
Development
• In Albert Bandura’s view (2002), self-regulation rather
than abstract reasoning is the key to positive moral
development
• Overall, the findings are mixed with regard to the
association of moral thought and behavior

34
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Prosocial Behavior

• Many prosocial acts involve altruism, an unselfish


interest in helping another person
• Although adolescents have often been described as
egocentric and selfish, adolescent acts of altruism are,
nevertheless, plentiful (Grusec, Hastings, & Almas,
2011; Grusec & Sherman, 2011)
• Adolescent females view themselves as more prosocial
and empathic, and also engage in more prosocial
behavior than males (Eisenberg & others, 2009)

35
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Prosocial Behavior

• Carlo and colleagues (2010, pp. 340 – 341) have


confirmed the presence of six types of prosocial behavior
in young adolescents:
• Altruism; public; emotional; dire; anonymous; and
compliant
• Forgiveness: An aspect of prosocial behavior that occurs
when the injured person releases the injurer from
possible behavioral retaliation (Klatt & Enright, 2009)
• Gratitude: A feeling of thankfulness and appreciation,
especially in response to someone doing something kind
or helpful (Grant & Gino, 2010)
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Moral Feeling

• Psychoanalytic theory
– In Freud’s classical psychoanalytic theory, an individual’s
superego – the moral branch of the personality – develops
in early childhood when the child resolves the Oedipus
conflict
• Self-punitiveness of guilt keeps children, and later on, adolescents
from committing transgressions
• Ego ideal: The component of the superego that involves standards
approved by the parents
• Conscience: The component of the superego that involves behaviors
disapproved by the parents

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Moral Feeling

– Erik Erikson (1970) outlined three stages of moral


development:
• Specific moral learning in childhood
• Ideological concerns in adolescence
• Ethical consolidation in adulthood

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Moral Feeling

• Empathy
– Positive feelings, such as empathy, contribute to
adolescents’ moral development (Eisenberg & others, 2009;
Malti & Latzko, 2010)
– Empathy: Reacting to another’s feelings with an emotional
response that is similar to that person’s feelings
• It often has a cognitive component – The ability to discern another’s
inner psychological states (perspective taking)

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Moral Feeling

– At about 10 to 12 years of age, individuals develop an empathy


for people who live in unfortunate circumstances (Damon, 1988)
– Children’s concerns are no longer limited to the feelings of
particular persons in situations they directly observe
– Adolescents’ empathic behavior varies considerably

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Moral Feeling

• The contemporary perspective


– Many developmentalists note that both positive feelings,
such as empathy, sympathy, admiration, and self-esteem,
and negative feelings, such as anger, outrage, shame, and
guilt, contribute to adolescents’ moral development
(Damon, 1995; Eisenberg & others, 2009)
– Moral emotions do not operate in a vacuum to build
adolescents’ moral awareness, and they are not sufficient in
themselves to generate moral responsitivity
• They do not give the “substance” of moral regulation – the rules,
values, and standards of behavior that adolescents need to
understand and act on

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Moral Personality

• Recently, there has been a surge on interest in a fourth


dimension of moral development: personality (Narváez &
Lapsley, 2009; Walker, Frimer, & Dunlop, 2011)
• Thoughts, behavior, and feelings can all be involved in an
individual’s moral personality
• Moral identity
– Individuals have a moral identity when moral notions and
commitments are central to their life (Blasi, 2005)
– Behaving in a manner that violates this moral commitment
places the integrity of the self at risk (Narváez & Lapsley,
2009)
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Moral Personality

• Moral character
– In James Rest’s (1995) view, moral character presupposes
that the person has set moral goals and that achieving those
goals involves the commitment to act in accord with those
goals
– Among the moral virtues people emphasize are honesty,
truthfulness, and trustworthiness, care, compassion,
thoughtfulness, dependability, loyalty, and
conscientiousness (Walker, 2002, p. 74)

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Moral Personality

• Moral exemplars
– Moral exemplars are people who have lived exemplary
lives
– Moral exemplars have a moral personality, identity,
character, and set of virtues that reflect moral excellence
and commitment (Walker & Frimer, 2011; Walker, Frimer,
& Dunlop, 2011)

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Contexts of Moral Development

• Parenting
• Schools
– The Hidden Curriculum
– Character Education
– Values Clarification
– Cognitive Moral Education
– Service Learning
– Cheating
– An Integrative Approach

45
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Parenting

• Both Piaget and Kohlberg held that parents do not


provide any unique or essential inputs to children’s moral
development
– They reserve the primary role in moral development for
peers
• Researchers have revealed how both parents and peers
contribute to the development of moral maturity (Day,
2010; Hastings, Utendale, & Sullivan, 2007)
• Developmentalists who have studied child-rearing
techniques and moral development have focused on
parents’ discipline techniques (Grusec, 2006)
46
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Parenting

• These discipline techniques include (Hoffman, 1970):


– Love withdrawal: A parent withholds attention or love
from the adolescent
– Power assertion: A parent attempts to gain control over
the adolescent or the adolescent’s resources
– Induction: A parent uses reason and explanation of
consequences for others of the adolescent’s actions
• In research on parenting techniques, induction in more
positively related to moral development than is love
withdrawal or power assertion, although the findings
vary according to developmental level and
socioeconomic status
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Schools

• The hidden curriculum


– The hidden curriculum is conveyed by the moral
atmosphere that is a part of every school
– The moral atmosphere is created by school and classroom
rules, the moral orientation of teachers and school
administrators, and text materials
• Character education
– Currently 40 of 50 states have mandates regarding
character education, a direct education approach that
involves teaching students a basic moral literacy to prevent
them from engaging in immoral behavior and doing harm
to themselves or others (Nucci & Narváez, 2008)
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Schools

• Values clarification
– A second approach to providing moral education is values
clarification, which involves helping individuals to clarify
what their lives are for and what is worth working for
– Unlike character education, which tells students what their
values should be, values clarification encourages students
to define their own values and understand the values of
others (Williams & others, 2003)

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Schools

• Cognitive moral education


– A third approach, cognitive moral education, is based on
the belief that students should learn such things as
democracy and justice as their moral reasoning develops
– In a typical program, high schools students meet in a
semester-long course to discuss a number of moral issues

50
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Schools

• Service learning
– Service learning is a form of education that promotes
social responsibility and service to the community
– An important goal is that adolescents become less self-
centered and more strongly motivated to help others
(Davidson & others, 2010; Hart, Matsuba, & Atkins, 2008)

51
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Schools

– Researchers have found that service learning benefits


adolescents in a number of ways (Zaff & others, 2010)
• Improvements include higher grades, increased goal setting, higher
self-esteem, an improved sense of being able to make a difference
for others, and an increased likelihood that they will serve as
volunteers in the future
– An analysis revealed 26% of U.S. public high schools
require students to participate in service learning (Metz &
Youniss, 2005)

52
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Schools

• Cheating
– A 2006 survey revealed that 60% of secondary school
students said they had cheated on a test in school during
the past year, and 1/3 reported that they had plagiarized
information from the Internet in the past year (Josephson
Institute of Ethics, 2006)
– Among the reasons students give for cheating include the
pressure for getting high grades, time pressures, poor
teaching, and lack of interest (Stephens, 2008)

53
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Schools

– Research also implicates the power of the situation in


determining whether students cheat or not (Hartshorne &
May, 1928–1930; Murdock, Miller, & Kohlbhardt, 2004;
Vandehey, Diekhoff, & LaBeff, 2007)
– Preventive measures include making sure students are
aware of what constitutes cheating, making clear the
consequences if they do cheat, closely monitoring
students’ behavior while they are taking tests, and
emphasizing the importance of being a moral, responsible
individual who engages in academic integrity

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Schools

• An integrative approach
– Darcia Narváez (2006, 2008, 2010a, 2010b) emphasizes an
integrative approach to moral education that encompasses:
• The reflective moral thinking and commitment to justice advocated
in Kohlberg’s approach
• Developing a particular moral character as advocated in the
character education approach
– Another integrative moral education program that is being
implemented is called integrative ethical education
(Narváez (2006, 2008, 2010a, 2010b; Narváez & others,
2004)
• This program builds on the concept of expertise

55
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Figure 7.5

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Values, Religion, and Spirituality

• Values
• Religion and spirituality
– The Positive Role of Religion and Spirituality in
Adolescents’ and Emerging Adults’ Lives
– Developmental Changes
– Religious Socialization and Parenting
– Religiousness and Sexuality in Adolescence and Emerging
Adulthood

57
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Values

• Values: Beliefs and attitudes about the way things should


be
• Over the past three decades, traditional-aged college
students have shown an increased concern for personal
well-being and a decreased concern for the well-being of
others, especially for the disadvantaged (Pryor & others,
2010)
– However, in this same survey, interest in developing a
meaningful philosophy of life increased from 39% to 47%
of U.S. freshmen from 2001 through 2009

58
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Figure 7.6

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Values

• Our discussion of values relates to William Damon’s


view that he proposed in The Path to Purpose (described
in Chapter 1)
– Damon concluded that a major difficulty confronting
today’s youth is their lack of a clear sense of what they
want to do with their lives – that too many youth are
essentially “rudderless”
– He argues that their goals and values too often focus on the
short-term

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Religion and Spirituality

• In Damon’s (2008) view, one long-standing source for


discovering purpose in life is religion
• Religious issues are important to many adolescents and
emerging adults (Day, 2010; King & Roeser, 2009)
• In the 21st century, a downtrend in religious interest
among college students has occurred
– In 2010, almost three times as many first-year students
(23%) reported that they don’t have a religious preference
than did first-year students in 1978 (8%)
• A recent developmental study revealed religiousness
declined from 14 to 20 years of age in the United States
(Koenig, McGue, & Iacono, 2008) 61
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Figure 7.7

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Religion and Spirituality

• Analysis of the World Values Survey of 18- to 24-year-


olds revealed that emerging adults in less developed
countries were more likely to be religious than their
counterparts in more developed countries (Lippman &
Keith, 2006)
• Researchers have found that adolescent girls are more
religious than are adolescent boys (King & Roeser, 2009)

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The Positive Role of Religion and Spirituality in
Adolescents’ and Emerging Adults’ Lives

• Researchers have found that various aspects of religion


are linked with positive outcomes for adolescents (Day,
2010; King & Roeser, 2009; Mellor & Freeborn, 2010)
– A recent study revealed that a higher level of church
engagement was related to higher grades for male
adolescents (Kang & Romo, 2010)
– Religion also plays a role in adolescents’ health and
whether they engage in problem behaviors (King &
Roeser, 2009)
– In one survey, religious youth were almost three times
more likely to engage in community service as
nonreligious youth (Youniss, McLellan, & Yates, 1999)
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Developmental Changes

• Adolescence and emerging adulthood can be especially


important junctures in religious development (Day, 2010;
King & Roeser, 2009)
– Even if children have been indoctrinated into a religion by
their parents, because of advances in their cognitive
development adolescents and emerging adults may
question what their own religious beliefs truly are

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Developmental Changes

• Cognitive changes
– Many of the cognitive changes thought to influence
religious development involve Piaget’s cognitive
developmental theory
• The increase in abstract thinking lets adolescents consider various
ideas about religious and spiritual concepts
• Adolescents’ increased idealistic thinking provides a foundation
for thinking about whether religion provides the best route to a
better, more ideal world than present
• Adolescents’ increased logical reasoning gives them the ability to
develop hypotheses and systematically sort through different
answers to spiritual questions (Good & Willoughby, 2008)

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Developmental Changes

• Erikson’s Theory
– During adolescence and emerging adulthood, especially
emerging adulthood, identity development becomes a central
focus (Erikson, 1968; Kroger, 2007)
• One study found that college students’ identity integration was related to
intrinsic religious orientation and self-reported altruism (Maclean,
Walker, & Matsuba, 2004)
• In one analysis, it was proposed that the link between identity and
spirituality in adolescence and emerging adulthood can serve as a gateway
for developing a spiritual identity that “transcends, but not necessarily
excludes, the assigned religious identity in childhood” (Templeton &
Eccles, 2006, p. 261)

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Religious Socialization and Parenting

• Religious institutions created by adults are designed to


introduce certain beliefs to children and thereby ensure
that they will carry on a religious tradition
• Does this religious socialization work?
– In many cases, it does (Oser, Scarlett, & Bucher, 2006)
– In general, children and adolescents tend to adopt the
religious teachings of their upbringing

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Religious Socialization and Parenting

• However, it is important to consider the quality of the


parent-adolescent relationship and whether mothers or
fathers are more influential (Granqvist & Dickie, 2006;
Ream & Savin-Williams, 2003)
– When conflict or insecure attachment characterizes parent-
adolescent relationships, adolescents may seek religious
affiliation that is different from their parents’ (Streib,
1999)
– A number of studies also have documented that mothers
are more influential in their children’s and adolescents’
religious development than fathers are (King & Roeser,
2009)
69
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Religiousness and Sexuality in Adolescence
and Emerging Adulthood
• One area of religion’s influence on adolescent and
emerging adult development involves sexual activity
– A recent study revealed that adolescents with high
religiosity were less likely to have had sexual intercourse
(Gold & others, 2010)
– As you read in Chapter 6, a recent study found that
parents’ religiosity was linked to a lower level of
adolescents’ risky behavior, in part by adolescents hanging
out with less sexually permissive peers (Landor & others,
2010)
– Also recall the discussion of a recent research review in
Chapter 6, which concluded that spirituality was linked to
positive developmental outcomes 70
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E-LEARNING TOOLS

To help you master the material in this chapter,


visit the Online Learning Center for
Adolescence, 14th edition at:

http://www.mhhe.com/santrocka14e

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