Portions of this work were presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association held in New Orleans, LA, in August 1989. The authors would like to thank Jeffrey Herman and Darold Hemphill for their assistance on this manuscript.
Naturalistic Conceptions of Morality: A Question-Answering Approach
Version of Record online: 28 APR 2006
Journal of Personality
Volume 62, Issue 2, pages 239–262, June 1994
How to Cite
Quinn, R. A., Houts, A. C. and Graesser, A. C. (1994), Naturalistic Conceptions of Morality: A Question-Answering Approach. Journal of Personality, 62: 239–262. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.1994.tb00293.x
- Issue online: 28 APR 2006
- Version of Record online: 28 APR 2006
- Manuscript received January 15, 1991; revised March 18, 1993.
ABSTRACT Psychological research on morality has been based on researchers' definitions of morality or on philosophical theories. The present study examined naturally occurring conceptions of morality by using a knowledge-structure methodology borrowed from cognitive psychology. Subjects generated statements in response to a question designed to expose generic knowledge about their concept of morality. Answer frequency and conceptual clustering results suggested that a variety of diverse concepts undergirded subjects' moral thinking and revealed a person-based rather than a philosophy-based pattern for commonly held conceptions of morality. A three-dimensional scaling solution of the responses suggested that conceptions of morality were characterized by individual-social, general-specific, and absolute-relative distinctions. These findings raise questions about assumptions underlying previous theories of morality. Moreover, the present methodology offers a basis for developing a more representative account of moral thought that depends less on the beliefs of researchers.