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Influence of Religion and Education on Moral Judgement

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 1713 words Published: 11th Apr 2018

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Morality & Education

How do people explain what is moral? Or what is right or wrong? Morals signify what is right or wrong and it mainly depends on the cultural context. According to Lalonde in lecture, morality is the behaviour that people regard to be right or wrong, morality depends on culture and as a result morals are culturally imbedded into a person in a particular geographical area. There have been so many researches done on the topic of morality, but the main focus of this research is on how people living in multicultural countries relate to other cultures around them and what they judge to be right or wrong. Morality has become a broad topic for most researches and it is not only fascinating but it is how it has developed and still shapes individuals behaviour regardless of where they are or who they are with. In recent discussion about morals, moral reasoning develops from childhood. When a person is born into a particular society, mainly the he or she learns the morals associated with that culture. Society is a leading influence on morality thus, the terms in-group favouritism and out-group derogation support this argument. In-group favouritism is associated with members in a particular group, whiles members outside the group are treated differently. Hence morality has to do with the wrong and right behaviours where, members in particular groups’ behaviours are perceived to be right and outsiders behaviours’ are perceived to be wrong. This paper will cover some literature reviews of other research study and a proposed study on how religion and education influence moral judgements, methods been used and the conclusion.

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Moreover, Larin, Geddes & Eva performed cross sectional study which compares moral judgments within two groups of students who underwent a physical therapy and was measured by ‘Defining Issues Test’ (DIT). According to Larin, Geddes & Eva, many researches have used Kohlberg’s concept of moral reasoning which have been criticised in many dimensions, so the results of this research was not characterized under Kohlberg’s theory but mainly on the religious effect on morality in testing different groups across cultures (2009). In this research, two different groups of students in different cultures underwent a physical therapy and were tested after a period of time. One group of students were from a western culture whiles the others were from an Islamic religious background (Larin, Geddes & Eva, 2009). The main reason was to test the judgements made by students and to determine how education influence peoples moral judgement. The two groups of students were presented with a moral dilemma and were tested on how they will respond in such a situation. It was concluded that, DIT scores in the western culture increased while the DIT scores in the Islamic culture remain constant over time. Therefore, education can influence peoples judgement in a western culture where there is no specific religious background but not for people who are all associated with one religious body. Religion becomes the main factor in shaping morals because the students were still confined to the morals of their religion and even education could not change their judgments in anyway (Larin, Geddes & Eva, 2009).

In relation to the previous study, this study is also a cross-cultural study which also discusses morality based on the concept by Shweder, known as “the Big 3 Moral Ethics (CAD)” (Guerra & Sorolla, 2010). Ethic of Community, Ethic of Autonomy and the Ethic of Divinity has been used in so many researches in countries like India, Brazil, Japan, Philippines and United States and there have been many different responses (Guerra & Sorrolla, 2010). The participants were British-born students across different ages, and Western European students, where the research focuses on how people in similar settings respond differently on moral judgements. However, they introduced a new “novel approach by also measuring how ethics relate to approval of moral actions as right” (Guerra & Sorrolla, 2010) and how effective Shweder moral ethics proposed. Different students and their responses were categorized under the Community, Autonomy and Divinity Scale that Guerra & Sorrolla developed. The scale was designed in horizontal and vertical lines, where horizontal represented equality, whiles vertical was hierarchical system. Autonomy falls under both individualism and collectivism horizontal because each of them is associated with the notion of equality. Another relation was between divinity and community which is associated with vertical collectivism and the prediction was that British student will fall more on the individualism horizontal than the western Europeans who are more collective. The results were valid and that the study they proposed was proven and consistence across culture (Guerra & Sorrolla, 2010).

In addition, another study was conducted among students in Kuwait University, in order to know the effect of gender and education on moral reasoning. According to AL- Ansari, many literature reviews have mainly certified morals development as a result of education and in his study, 3 questions was constructed. First, what is the overall moral reasoning pattern for the students in Kuwait? Secondly, are the gender differences in moral reasoning? And lastly, are there differences in the moral reasoning of students in higher or lower educational levels? Students were randomly selected in ages ranging from 18-24 and were categorized under freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors (AL- Ansari, 2002). The method used in this study was the short form of DIT and before the study all the participants were registered in a short semester at the university. In order to consider different cultures, 3 different stories were used in the testing the moral reasoning of the student. Ultimately, the stage at which the students in Kuwait reason in making moral judgements is at the conventional level of Kohlberg’s theory (AL-Ansari, 2002). There was also no difference in making moral judgements between the females and male, and lastly, there is an effect on moral judgement when there is an introduction of formal education (AL-Ansari, 2002). When all the reviews are put together, the main focus is how morality has been influenced by the introduction of formal education.


The introduction of formal education into people’s lives has influenced their responses on making moral judgement. The development of the mind into different cultural practises as a result of higher education, the more similar judgement a person has with his or her other mates. However different cultures have different morals but as a person mingle with other cultures and study these varieties, the more open-minded they become in making judgements. This study is about how individual from different cultures become similar in making moral judgements as a result of education.


Furthermore, I assembled about 20 immigrants from different cultures, such as Africans, Indians, Europeans and others who have been introduced to formal education but with different curricular. Their education was mainly based on their cultural activities and they were based on scholarships to continue their education in the higher. I was able to gather these people based on a class I took at York know as English as a second language. The incentive for this research was to help them learn English language, so we meet at the end of every semester to discuss our experiences and as a result I developed this study. It is a longitudinal study which is studying the same group of participants across a long period of time.


Introduction of formal education influence peoples moral judgements in a similar context.


The participants were given a questioner to answer after reading a moral dilemma. These participants were new in Canada and still had their morals associated with their cultures. The questions were what would you do if you were in such a situation and what do you think about the behaviour of person in the situation. Their answer was characterised under the 3 stages of Kohlberg’s moral reasoning. Level 1: Preconventional, what is bad is determined by the physical consequences, Level 2: Conventional where morality is based on external standards such as what maintains the social order in relation to the family and society and lastly, Level 3: Post conventional where moral reasoning is based on internalised standards of abstract ethical principles regarding justice and individual rights. These students were studies across time with the similar moral dilemmas, thus during their first, second, third and final years. The study was very effective and there were tremendous results.


In the first year there was a variety of responses between the participants but as more educated they became, the more similar they thought in their moral reasoning. In their final years most of the participants gave answers which focussed more on the conventional level of moral reasoning regardless of their backgrounds.


The hypothesis was proven to be right, thus the moral educated people become; the more alike they are in making moral judgements. This research might not be valid because there might be other factors that influenced the responses of the participants.


Al-Ansari, E. M. (2002). Effects of gender and education on the moral reasoning of Kuwait University Students. Social Behavior And Personality: An International Journal, 30 (1), pp. 75–82.

Guerra, V. M. & Giner-Sorolla, R. (2010). The community, autonomy, and divinity scale (CADS): A new tool for the cross-cultural study of morality. Journal Of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 41 (1), pp. 35-50.

Larin, H. M., Geddes, E. L. & Eva, K. W. (2009). Measuring moral judgement in physical therapy students from different cultures: a dilemma. Learning In Health And Social Care, 8 (2), pp. 103–113.


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