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Department of Psychology


Department of Psychology


According to the standard model of moral identity development, moral identities emerge during adolescence and early adulthood. Contrary to this assumption, however, moral identity research has consistently failed to demonstrate any age-related change in this developmental period. The present paper discusses implications of this non-finding. It is argued that researchers need to broaden the scope of inquiry and include developmental aspects of the moral identity construct that have been neglected in the past. Three areas are identified where moral identity development likely occurs in adolescence and beyond: (1) context-dependent differentiation and integration of the self-importance of moral values, (2) growth in internal moral motivation and (3) unfolding of narratives of moral responsibility. It is suggested that any systematic investigation into these areas will reveal important developmental changes in moral identities and, thus, will confirm the developmental nature of the moral identity construct.


This is a preprint manuscript of an article published by S. Karger AG in Human Developments Vol 58 issue 3, 2015 and available on