Prosocial Moral Reasoning
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About Prosocial Moral Reasoning
The paper-and-pencil measure of prosocial moral reasoning (PROM) was administered (Carlo et al., 1992; Eisenberg et al., 1995). Five stories were administered, each containing a conflict between a protagonist’s needs and desires and those of (an)other(s). The following is a sample story from the PROM:
“One day Marywas going to a friend’s party. On theway, she sawa girl who had fallen down and hurt her leg. The girl asked Mary to go to the girl’s house and get her parents so the parents could come and take her to the doctor. But if Mary did run and get the girl’s parents, Mary would be late to the party and miss the fun and social activities with her friends.”
The participant was asked to read each story and indicate (a) whether the protagonist should help the needy other, (b) whether the protagonist should not help the needy other, or (c) whether they were unsure what the protagonist should do. Participants then were asked to rate on a 5-point scale (1 = not at all through 5 = greatly) the importance of the nine reasons why the protagonis should, or should not, help the needy other in the story. In those stories, a representative sample of frequently reported prosocial moral reasons was selected for each story.
Each of the stories included one hedonistic reason (Level 1 in the Eisenberg, 1986, schemata, which consists of simple hedonistic or direct reciprocity reasoning; e.g., “It depends how much fun Mary expects the party to be, and what sorts of things are happening at the party”), one needs-oriented reason (Level 2; e.g., “It depends whether the girl really needs help or not”), one approval-oriented reason (Level 3; e.g., “It depends whether Mary’s parents and friends will think she did the right or she did the wrong thing”), and one stereotyped reason (Level 3; e.g., “It depends if Mary thinks it’s the decent thing to do or not”). Each story also contained one internalized reason, which reflected a higher level of reasoning (Level 4 and 5), and consisted of sympathy, role-taking, positive or negative affect, generalized reciprocity, or internalized value (e.g., “It depends how Mary would feel about herself if she helped or not”).
The sixth reason was a lie/nonsense item (e.g., “It depends whether Mary believes in people’s values of metacognition or not”). Carlo et al. (1992) report that lie/nonsense items can be used to screen out participants who strongly endorsed these items. However, only one participant in the present study scored at or above 2 SD above the mean of the lie scale (the criteria suggested by Carlo et al., 1992).
However, dropping this one participant from the analyses did not appreciably change the results. Thus, data from all participants were retained. Scores were derived by summing the items across the five stories for each of the five types of prosocial moral reasoning to obtain a frequency score. The frequency PROM scores were transformed to proportion PROM scores by dividing each of the scores for the five types of moral reasoning by the sum of frequency PROMscores. The proportion score reflects a participant’s preference for a particular reasoning type relative to the other reasoning types.
There were five hedonistic items (Cronbach’s alpha coefficient = .74), five needs-oriented items (Cronbach’s alpha coefficient = .71), five approval-oriented items (Cronbach’s alpha coefficient = .86), five stereotypic items (Cronbach’s alpha coefficient = .83), and five internalized-level items (Cronbach’s alpha coefficient = .75). Evidence for the reliability and validity of the PROMhas been reported elsewhere (e.g., Carlo et al., 1996; Eisenberg et al., 1995).