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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2018

6. Moral Psychology

From the book Communication and Media Ethics

  • Erin Schauster


Moral psychology is the study of moral agency, which has been applied by media ethicists to understand the moral reasoning, motivations and behaviors of media students and workers such as journalists, advertising and public relations practitioners. The history of moral psychology begins with the seminal work of Jean Piaget and extends into the six stages of moral development proposed by Lawrence Kohlberg. The prevailing measure of moral reasoning relative to Kohlberg’s six stages is the Defining Issues Test (DIT), developed by James Rest, which activates and accesses moral schemas ascending from acknowledging authority and avoiding punishment, to rationalizing decisions based upon principles of justice, reciprocity and respect. Additional methods employed include the Journalists’ Ethical Reasoning Instrument (JERI), a measure of moral reasoning much like the DIT; Forsyth Ethics Position Questionnaire (EPQ), a measure of ethical ideologies; and Ethical Motivation Scale (EMS), which determines motives for ethical decision making. However, moral reasoning is understood as an interlocking system, dependent upon social interaction occurring within and influenced by one’s environmental context, which presents limitations for these measures. In response to these limitations, proposed new pathways for media ethics research evaluate moral development relative to professional environments, life experiences, and emerging practices.

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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