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Ethical Sensitivity of Finnish
Lutheran 7th-9th Grade Students
Kirsi Tirri, Petri Nokelainen & Kristiina Holm
University of Helsinki
Finland
University of Helsinki
3/27/2016
Four components of morality
(Bebeau et al., 1999)
1) Moral judgment
2) Moral sensitivity
3) Moral motivation
4) Moral character
University of Helsinki
3/27/2016
Moral judgment
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“Moral judgment is judging which action is morally
right or wrong. Once a person is aware that various
lines of action are possible, one must ask which line
of action is more morally justified” (Bebeau, Rest &
Narvaez, 1999)
University of Helsinki
3/27/2016
Moral judgment and reasoning
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Gifted adolescents as a group score higher than their
peers in moral judgment (Narvaez 1993)
The high achievers can have an average to high
moral judgment scores
Adolescents formulate different dilemmas from the
hypothetical dilemmas used in the tests to asses
moral reasoning (Colangelo 1982, Tirri 1996)
Moral judgment requires moral sensitivity and moral
motivation
University of Helsinki
3/27/2016
Moral character
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“Moral character means having the strength of
your convictions, having courage, persisting,
overcoming distractions and obstacles, having
implementing skills, having ego strength”
(Bebeau, Rest & Narvaez, 1999)
University of Helsinki
3/27/2016
Moral sensitivity
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“Moral sensitivity is the awareness of how our actions affect
other people. It involves being aware of the different possible
lines of action and how each line of action could affect the
parties involved (including oneself). Moral sensitivity involves
imaginatively constructing possible scenarios (often from limited
cues and partial information), knowing cause-consequent chains
of events in the real world, and having empathy and role-taking
skills. Moral sensitivity is necessary to become aware that a
moral issue is involved in a situation” (Bebeau, Rest & Narvaez,
1999)
University of Helsinki
3/27/2016
Ethical sensitivity
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Reading and expressing emotions
Taking the perspectives of others
Caring by connecting to others
Working with interpersonal and group differences
Preventing social bias
Generating interpretations and options
Identifying the consequences of actions and options
University of Helsinki
3/27/2016
Data
• The data was gathered during fall 2006 from
Helsinki and Jyväskylä (Norssi ja Huhtaharju)
• 7-9-grade students (N=249)
• 53% girls 47% boys
• Gifted 53%, average 47%
• A questionnaire with 28 items (4x7)
• Likert-scale 1-5
University of Helsinki
3/27/2016
Research Questions
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Are there any differences in the self-reported ethical
sensitivity between
(1) Lutheran non-confirmed and confirmed students;
(2) female and male students; and
(3) academically average and above average students?
University of Helsinki
3/27/2016
University of Helsinki
3/27/2016
University of Helsinki
3/27/2016
University of Helsinki
3/27/2016
Results: First question
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Results regarding the first question showed that those
students who have had more religious education at school
and also were confirmed in the Lutheran church, selfreported higher ethical skills than their younger and nonconfirmed peers. This finding supports our initial
hypothesis that ninth graders, who have had more religious
education at school and also were confirmed, assess
themselves more as ethically sensitive than their younger
and less educated peers.
University of Helsinki
3/27/2016
Results: Second question
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Results regarding the second question showed clearly that
female students estimated their ethical skills higher than
their male peers. This tendency can be explained by the
types of items measuring ethical sensitivity skills. The
majority of them measure caring ethics with emotional and
social intelligence. In earlier Finnish studies, both 6th and
9th grade girls were shown to be more care-oriented in their
moral orientation than their same age male peers who were
clearly justice-oriented (Tirri, 2003).
University of Helsinki
3/27/2016
Results: Third question
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Results regarding the third question showed that more
academically gifted students estimated their ethical skills
as higher than the opinions of average ability students.
This finding supports other researchers’ notion that gifted
students have a privileged position in the maturation of
moral thinking because of their precocious intellectual
growth (Andreani & Pagnin, 1993; Karnes & Brown,
1981; Terman, 1925).
University of Helsinki
3/27/2016
Future Studies
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Results regarding the psychometric properties of the ESSQ
showed that more data (also cross-cultural) and further
statistical analyses are needed to prove its usefulness in
practice.
Correlations between ethical sensitivity and cultural,
religious and spiritual sensitivities
University of Helsinki
3/27/2016