Moral Schemas and Tacit Judgement or How the Defining Issues Test is Supported by Cognitive Science

Journal of Moral Education 31 (3):297-314 (2002)
Abstract
Ideas from cognitive science are increasingly influential and provide insight into the nature of moral judgement. Three core ideas are discussed: modern schema theory, the frequency of automatic decision-making and implicit processes as the default mode of human information processing. The Defining Issues Test (DIT) measures the beginnings of moral understanding, which are largely non-verbal and intuitive, in contrast to the Moral Judgement Interview (MJI), which measures the highest level of verbal understanding. The positive attributes of the DIT and its conceptualisation of moral judgement schemas are more apparent in a time of increasing respect for implicit knowledge and processing. The DIT offers a means of measuring moral judgement that fits with current views in cognitive science. Although the MJI and interview techniques generally are worthwhile for measuring production competence, the DIT is better able to measure understanding at the level that drives most decisions for most people
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