Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Bernice Lott


Women's and men's use of care and justice considerations in response to moral dilemmas was investigated. Participants were 63 men and 127 women ranging in age from 17 to 64. Each was presented with one of two dilemmas dealing with either abortion or drug use, as it affected either a daughter or a son, and asked to respond to the dilemma both in an open-ended format and in a Likert scale format. A Chi Square analysis was used to analyze the essay responses, which were categorized as primarily justice, primarily care, or both. The content of the dilemma was found to have a significant impact on the distribution of the responses (2 < .01). There were more justice considerations and fewer care considerations than expected by chance in response to the abortion dilemma, and more care responses and fewer justice responses than expected by chance in response to the drug dilemma. There was no effect for gender of either the respondent or the protagonist in the dilemma. Analysis of variance, used to analyze the Likert responses, revealed no effect for gender of the participant or gender of the protagonist, but those respondents who had a dilemma dealing with abortion used justice considerations significantly more often than did those whose dilemma dealt with drug use (2 < .05). These findings are discussed in relation to the significance of abortion for Rhode Island residents.



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