The moral domain and an individual’s disposition have a complicated and nuanced interaction in which both aspects can impact one another in various ways. Disposition to a person’s typical ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving are presumed to remain relatively unchanged throughout life. Things like genetics, upbringing, and life experiences can influence it. The moral domain of an individual refers to the beliefs and principles used to determine right and wrong (Walker, 2020 p, 381–395). Both morality and disposition are tied to one another and thus may influence another in various ways.
1. Moral Dilemmas
According to Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Growth, the degree of moral development affects how individuals respond to moral dilemmas. The pre-conventional level is that people must consider their interests when making judgments, regardless of how their decisions might affect others (Federico & Malka, 2018), in the traditional stage based on what society views as ethically correct. For instance, a law-abiding individual might support the death penalty despite the tremendous suffering the perpetrator has undergone because they behave according to societal norms.
In the post-conventional stage, individuals become aware of the diversity of moral viewpoints and base their decisions on their unique ethical beliefs. For instance, a person at this level would disagree with the death sentence because they believe it breaches fundamental human rights. Individuals’ moral development can significantly influence their values and how they approach a problem. According to Kohlberg’s idea, it can be simpler for individuals and society to navigate complex moral dilemmas and act responsibly.
2. Behavioral Patterns
According to the polyvagal theory, the body possesses a range of arousal-related physiological reactions that help it prepare to deal with threats—connected to the learned fight-or-flight response. According to the hypothesis, a hierarchy of brain circuits that react to various threat levels controls the body’s reaction to a perceived threat(Matthews, 2019, p 418). The central tenets of the polyvagal hypothesis contend that early experiences with safety and danger shape a person’s behavioral tendencies
A person is more likely to develop resilience and adaptive behavior when faced with risks if they feel safe and secure in their early years. A person’s response to threats may be maladaptive if they endure trauma or persistent stress in their early years, resulting in anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. Therefore, a person’s early experiences with safety and danger can impact their behavior pattern. By recognizing this, people and society may foster more loving and supportive environments for kids, encouraging resilience and positive behavioral patterns.
3. Adolescence as a Last Chance for Race Improvement
G. Stanley Hall emphasized that adolescence is a new beginning and the final opportunity for racial advancement. This statement emphasizes the importance of adolescence as a crucial period of human development, where a person undergoes physical, cognitive, and social changes that shape their identities and prepare them for adulthood. At this stage, individuals start making decisions that affect their lives and the lives of others during this time.
Adolescence is also essential for racial progress because it follows individuals to challenge and transcend racial stereotypes and prejudices and develop intercultural competence and empathy. As children’s primary agent of socialization and the primary influencer of their attitudes and beliefs regarding race and ethnicity, the family unit is crucial to racial progress (Wagemans et al., 2018). Parents can promote racial progress by modeling inclusive behavior, providing opportunities for cross-cultural interactions, and addressing issues of discrimination and inequality.
Schools, communities, and the media aid the racial development of adolescents. Diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusive education are values fostered in schools. The health of a community may be improved through cultural contact and diversity, as well as by access to resources and services(Callahan, 2018). The media can combat stereotypes, promote diversity, and listen to people who are underprivileged in society. Adolescence and moral challenges both have significant repercussions for individuals and society as a whole. By gaining knowledge of Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development and adolescence’s part in improving racial attitudes, we may foster moral development and construct a more just and equal society.
Walker, L. J. (2020). The character of character: The 2019 Kohlberg Memorial lecture. Journal of Moral Education, 49(4), 381–395.
Matthews, N. L. (2019). Social judgment theory detects the boundaries of disposition bias on moral judgments of media characters’ behaviors. Journal of Communication, 69(4), 418–441.
Bonus, J. A., Matthews, N. L., & Wulf, T. (2021). The impact of moral expectancy violations on audiences’ parasocial relationships with movie heroes and villains. Communication Research, 48(4), 550-572.
Callahan, L. F. (2018). Moral testimony: a re-conceived understanding explanation. The Philosophical Quarterly, 68(272), 437-459.
Wagemans, F., Brandt, M. J., & Zeelenberg, M. (2018). Disgust sensitivity is primarily associated with purity-based moral judgments: emotion, 18(2), 277.
Federico, C. M., & Malka, A. (2018). The contingent, contextual nature of the relationship between needs for security and certainty and political preferences: Evidence and implications. Political Psychology, 39, 3-48.