Care and justice moral orientation among African American college students

Pamela L. Knox, N. S. Fagley, Paul M. Miller

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37 Scopus citations


The current study assessed the moral orientation of African American college students. In addition, we examined whether or not they exhibit the gender difference in moral orientation hypothesized by Gilligan. One hundred sixty-six African American undergraduates at an historically Black university completed the Moral Orientation Scale, which measures care versus justice moral orientation. The students selected an average of 4.39 care-oriented responses (out of 12). In contrast to predictions that African American culture would lead to the development of a care focus, most participants had a justice focus. In fact, these students were significantly more justice oriented than male law students, who were the most justice oriented of the groups studied by N. Yacker and S. L. Weinberg (1990). There was no evidence of a gender difference in moral orientation. If future research replicates this finding, then Gilligan's theory may need to be modified with regard to African Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-45
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Adult Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


  • Care and justice
  • Ethnicity differences
  • Gender differences
  • Moral orientation
  • Moral reasoning


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