Chapter 11

The Values of Adolescents

Values in Action: Volunteering: Many adolescents routinely do volunteer work in their communities. The likelihood of volunteering is affected by adolescents’ personalities and by interactions with their parents.
Key Terms: resilient

Values: Adolescents and Parents: Most adolescents have values that are similar to those of their parents. They place a high value on having a good marriage and family life, and being successful in their work.

Values: Gender and Ethnicity: With respect to gender, more similarities than differences exist in the values held by adolescent females and males. There are also few differences in adolescents’ values due to race.

Values and Identity: The way adolescents approach both their own and others’ values reflects identity issues. Identity-achieved and moratorium adolescents have explored issues for themselves and are tolerant of similar explorations and differences in others. Foreclosed adolescents tend to be more rule-bound and authoritarian than identity-achieved or moratorium adolescents. They are also more likely to be critical of those who are different from them.

Morality: What Makes a Thing Right?

Social-Cognitive Theory and Moral Development: Social-cognitive theory assumes that community standards form the basis of self-regulated behavior. Age-related changes in considering the intentions of others and questioning values are traced to children’s and adolescents’ experiences when interacting with others. The experience of gratitude can motivate individuals to act in more positive ways. Adolescents’ behavior does not always reflect their moral understanding, and depends on factors such as incentives for responsible behavior and learned internalized controls.
Key Terms: morality

Kohlberg: Moral Reasoning: Kohlberg traces moral development over three levels of moral reasoning, with two stages at each level. The levels reflect the stance adolescents take in relation to the standards of their community. Forgiveness is a decision to release a person from a claim that justice would honor. Reasoning about forgiveness, just as about justice, becomes more mature with age. There is substantial support that individuals reason in more principled ways with age; however, their reasoning does not necessarily correspond to their actions.
Key Terms: preconventional reasoning, conventional reasoning, random error, test of significance, postconventional reasoning

Social Domain Theory: Like Kohlberg’s theory, social domain theory assumes that children actively construct ways of understanding their world, recognizes the contribution of cognitive development to moral understanding, and stresses the importance of peer interactions to moral development. Differing from Kohlberg, social domain theory distinguishes moral understanding and social convention as distinct domains of social understanding, rather than viewing these as a developmental progression, whereas the personal domain constitutes a third form of social understanding.
Key Terms: moral domain, social conventional domain, personal domain

Gilligan: An Ethic of Care: Gilligan assumes females think of morality more personally than do males, emphasizing compassion and a sense of responsibility to others in contrast to a justice orientation, emphasizing reliance on rules and reason. Gilligan traces gender differences in moral reasoning to differences in ways of viewing the self, where females tend to define themselves in relation to others, and males tend to define themselves as separate from others. As such, she describes three levels of moral development in females, each reflecting a different resolution to conflict between responsibilities to themselves and to others. The type of moral dilemma individuals are considering, though, influences their moral reasoning more than their gender. Additionally, moral reasoning is more closely related to gender-role orientation than to gender itself.
Key Terms: ethic of care, meta-analysis

Freud: Morality and the Superego: Freud placed the responsibility for moral behavior in the superego, an aspect of the personality that embraces cultural standards of right and wrong. The superego develops when the young child identifies with the same-sex parent. Freud assumed the superego of females to be weaker than that of males because they are not as motivated to resolve Oedipal tensions. Despite the usefulness of Freud’s theory to clinicians, his assumptions concerning gender differences in moral development have not been supported by research.

Adolescents’ Religious Beliefs

The Importance of Religion: The intellectual changes that occur in adolescence make it possible for adolescents to view God in new ways and to question beliefs they once accepted uncritically. As with identity status, processes of exploration and commitment determine the form beliefs will take. For more than 60% of adolescents, religion remains very to moderately important in their lives.
Key Terms: religious identity