Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Janet M. Kulberg


This study investigates the "structured whole" hypothesis of cognitive-moral developmental theory which suggests that there is a general factor of moral stage crosscutting responses to all moral dilemmas which results in a stage-consistent pattern of responses on instruments assessing moral development. In order to assess the effect of the content of moral dilemmas the Defining Issues Test (DIT) was administered to 300 undergraduate students at a mid-sized state university. Results suggest that dilemmas differentially "pull for" or exclude certain levels of moral reasoning providing no support for the "structured whole" hypothesis of cognitive moral development theory. Additional research in the following three areas is necessary in order that the underlying assumptions of cognitive developmental theory be further investigated: determination of the test-retest reliability of DIT stage scores, profile analyses of subjects' responses on the DIT, and evaluation of the effects of both subject and dilemma variables on DIT responses.

Diss_Lawson_Gail_1986.txt (96 kB)
text file of dissertation



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