Moral motivation based on multiple developmental structures: an exploration of cognitive and emotional dynamics.


Intrapersonal variability and multiplicity in the complexity of moral motivation were examined from Dynamic Systems and Self-Determination Theory perspectives. L. Kohlberg's (1969) stages of moral development are reconceptualized as soft-assembled and dynamically transformable process structures of motivation that may operate simultaneously within person in different degrees. Moral motivation is conceptualized as the real-time process of self-organization of cognitive and emotional dynamics out of which moral judgment and action emerge. A detailed inquiry into intrapersonal variation in moral motivation is carried out based on the differential operation of multiple motivational structures. A total of 74 high school students and 97 college students participated in the study by completing a new questionnaire, involving 3 different hypothetical moral judgments. As hypothesized, findings revealed significant multiplicity in the within-person operation of developmental stage structures, and intrapersonal variability in the degrees to which stages were used. Developmental patterns were found in terms of different distributions of multiple stages between high school and college samples, as well as the association between age and overall motivation scores. Differential relations of specific emotions to moral motivation revealed and confirmed the value of differentiating multiple emotions. Implications of the present theoretical perspective and the findings for understanding the complexity of moral judgment and motivation are discussed.

DOI: 10.1080/00221325.2013.838936

Cite this paper

@article{Kaplan2014MoralMB, title={Moral motivation based on multiple developmental structures: an exploration of cognitive and emotional dynamics.}, author={Ulas Kaplan and Terrence Tivnan}, journal={The Journal of genetic psychology}, year={2014}, volume={175 3-4}, pages={181-201} }