Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Children with mental disabilities; Friendship in children; Moral development--Testing;


The purposes of this study were 1) to compare the Moral and Friendship Development of regular class male students 1 with that of age matched EMR male students, and 2) to compare the relationship between Moral and Friendship Development within each group.

The 30 male subjects, 15 from regular classes and 15 from EMR classes, were equally divided into three chronological age groups; 5-6, 7-8, and 9-10. The regular class subjects were attending the UNI lab school; EMR subjects were attending public schools in Fredricksburg, Charles City, Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Iowa.

Each subject was presented with three filmstrips and three subsequent standardized interviews. Two of the filmstrips and interviews were to elicit the subject's moral reasoning. One filmstrip and its subsequent interview was to elicit the subject's ideas about friendship. For regular class subjects the interviews took place in two sessions with approximately one week intervening between them. For EMR subjects both interviews took place in one session.

The children's interviews were tape-recorded and later transcribed for scoring purposes. The children's explanations of their moral judgments were scored according to Porter and Taylor's manual (1972), which is based on Kohlberg's stages of Moral Development (MMS scores). Children's thinking and conceptions of friendship were scored according to Selman's (Note 3) Assessing Interpersonal Understanding: An Interview and Scoring Manual and converted to Average Issue Scores (AIS).

Findings of this study showed EMR subjects to lag behind regular class subjects in both Moral and Friendship Development. For regular class subjects, Moral and Friendship Development were shown to be highly correlated with CA and thus showed the stage-by-age developmental patterns as discussed by Kohlberg (1969) and Selman (Note 2). Moral and Friendship Development were also significantly correlated, which supports Selman's hypothesis of commensurate development and a common structure underlying the social developmental models.

For EM.R subjects, only CA and Moral Development were significantly correlated. Thus, it appears that EMR subjects' moral maturity may develop in a like, stage-by-age developmental pattern, although slower, .than regular class subjects. The lack of a significant relationship between CA and AIS scores can suggest that the EMR subjects do not develop according to Selman's conceptual stages of Friendship Development. In conjunction with the frequency distributions, this lack of significant correlation could also suggest that the instruments employed may not be differentiating between the EMR subjects in their Friendship Development. The frequency distribution of the MMS scores for EM.R subjects suggests that the instruments used in the assessment of Moral Development also may not be differentiating between EMR subjects. Another possibility is that the significant correlation between CA and MMS scores and not between CA and AIS scores suggests a difference in the social experiences and development of EMR subjects.

Caution in the interpretation of these findings is suggested as there were several sources of variation not completely controlled in this study, i.e. familiarity of the subjects with the experimental stimuli, the difficulty in the downward extension of interview probes from older to a younger level, the SES of the subjects, and the extent of prior socialization.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Specialist in Education


Department of Educational Psychology, Foundations, and Leadership Studies


Department of Educational Psychology and Foundations

First Advisor

Donald W. Schmits


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Date Original


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