Journal of Medical Humanities 16 (1):39-53 (1995)

This study investigated gender related moral reasoning in student essays containing arguments on moral issues. Undergraduate students in a medical ethics course viewed two films on morally controversial issues. The students wrote brief essays about the films which were transcribed and numerically coded to conceal the author's gender from the evaluator. Using a coding scheme originated by Lyons, the evaluator classified each essay as a justice/right essay or a care/response essay or an equal response essay. Subsequently, calculations were made to determine the percentage of male authored essays that were justice/rights essays or care/response essays and the percentage of female authored essays that were justice/rights or care/response essays. The males (87.7%) tended to exhibit the justice/rights moral orientation, and the females (69.4%) exhibited the care/response moral orientation. Several different calculations were made to determine various degrees of gender related orientations also. The difference in orientation was highly statistically significant (p≤0.001). These data contribute to understanding moral orientation and development. Interpretations are given to explain some differences between the genders and help explain the traditional roles in society that males and females have played historically
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DOI 10.1007/BF02276819
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