PLoS ONE 15 (8):e0238110 (2020)

Authors
Hyemin Han
University of Alabama
Abstract
Introduction The Defining Issues Test (DIT) aimed to measure one’s moral judgment development in terms of moral reasoning. The Neo-Kohlbergian approach, which is an elaboration of Kohlbergian theory, focuses on the continuous development of postconventional moral reasoning, which constitutes the theoretical basis of the DIT. However, very few studies have directly tested the internal structure of the DIT, which would indicate its construct validity. Objectives Using the DIT-2, a later revision of the DIT, we examined whether a bi-factor model or 3-factor CFA model showed a better model fit. The Neo-Kohlbergian theory of moral judgment development, which constitutes the theoretical basis for the DIT-2, proposes that moral judgment development occurs continuously and that it can be better explained with a soft-stage model. Given these assertions, we assumed that the bi-factor model, which considers the Schema-General Moral Judgment (SGMJ), might be more consistent with Neo-Kohlbergian theory. Methods We analyzed a large dataset collected from undergraduate students. We performed confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) via weighted least squares. A 3-factor CFA based on the DIT-2 manual and a bi-factor model were compared for model fit. The three factors in the 3-factor CFA were labeled as moral development schemas in Neo-Kohlbergian theory (i.e., personal interests, maintaining norms, and postconventional schemas). The bi-factor model included the SGMJ in addition to the three factors. Results In general, the bi-factor model showed a better model fit compared with the 3-factor CFA model although both models reported acceptable model fit indices. Conclusion We found that the DIT-2 scale is a valid measure of the internal structure of moral reasoning development using both CFA and bi-factor models. In addition, we conclude that the soft-stage model, posited by the Neo-Kohlbergian approach to moral judgment development, can be better supported with the bi-factor model that was tested in the present study.
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