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Extraordinary Moral Commitment: Young Adults Involved in Social Organizations


  • M. Kyle Matsuba, Psychology Department, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada; Lawrence J. Walker, Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This project was supported by a research grant to the second author from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. We gratefully acknowledge the research assistance of Russ Callaghan, Leanne Futa, Tobias Krettenauer, Juanita Lundgren, and Joy Rudder.

concerning this article should be addressed to M. Kyle Matsuba, Psychology Department, University of Northern British Columbia, 3333 University Way, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada V2N 4Z9. Electronic mail may be sent to


Abstract The personality of exemplary young adults was studied in an effort to paint a portrait of moral excellence that expanded upon the traditional emphasis on moral reasoning maturity. These young adults were nominated based on their extraordinary moral commitment towards various social organizations. The sample included 40 moral exemplars and 40 matched comparison individuals who responded to a battery of questionnaires and participated in a semistructured interview. It was found that moral exemplars, in contrast to comparison individuals, were more agreeable, more advanced in their faith and moral reasoning development, further along in forming an adult identity, and more willing to enter into close relationships. These findings are discussed in the context of describing moral excellence from a multifaceted, personality perspective.