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Title: How do parental style, family structure, and ethnic background impact on the adolescents' development of moral responsibility?
Author: van der Spoel, Albert Martijn
ISNI:       0000 0004 2699 6993
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2005
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This study is driven by the ongoing and complex social debate about the nature and formation of moral understanding among young people. The research is set within the context of the cognitive development theory. This research seeks to examine the understanding of moral responsibility among 400 adolescents who are students at a mixed comprehensive school in the Greater London area. Primary attention is given to the variables parental style and ethnic background, and how these influence the subject's understanding of moral responsibility. Continuing from this focus, the researcher also explores how family structure, avoidance of moral conflict discussions, and religious orientation contributes to observed patterns between the primary variables and levels of moral responsibility scores. Two types of research methods are employed, namely questionnaires and interviews. The funnel type of research enables the researcher to identify various groups with particular characteristics at an early stage in the study. Building on this knowledge and seeking to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of these characteristics semi-structured and focus interviews are used with carefully selected subjects. This research concludes that parental styles and ethnic background have an influence on the understanding of moral responsibility. For example, it observed that subjects of different ethnic backgrounds perceive the effects of parental styles in different ways, which in turn affects their levels of moral responsibility. It was found that this was specifically evident with authoritarian families. This study did not record significant overall findings with regard to family structure, but establishes that there are clear links between avoidance of moral discussions and parental style as well the role of religion in relation to understanding of moral responsibility.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available