PQA - Measuing the personal qualities and abilities of aspiring health professionals

Presentation to 5th annual meeting of the Society of Australasian Social Psychologists, Fremantle, 27-30 April 2000.

(Australian Journal of Psychology 52, 2000 Supplement, p3)

Bore M, Munro D

Dissonance as the cognitive mechanism of moral behaviour: Decisions, dissonance, certainty and response latencies.

This validation study is part of a research program that has developed a social, rather than developmental, model and measure of moral behaviour. The model proposes that an individual may perceive and experience a situation as a moral dilemma if two or more usually consonant moral cognitions of equal and high importance become dissonant due to contextual constraints. Individual differences in the importance given to moral cognitions are suggested to underlie three moral orientation types: Libertarian (greater importance given to the rights and welfare of the individual); Communitarian (greater importance given to the welfare and expectations of the group); and Dual (approximately equal importance given to both individual welfare and group expectations). The MOJAC scale of moral decision making was developed to measure these orientation types. Medical school applicants (n = 58) completed a computerised version of MOJAC that, for this study, also contained items to measure dissonance and decision certainty. Responses and response latencies were recorded by the computer. As hypothesised, individuals displaying a Dual orientation also produced higher dissonance scores and lower certainty scores. While Communitarians did produce faster response latencies than Dual oriented respondents, Libertarians unexpectedly produced the longest response latencies.