Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Developmental Psychology


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Dr. Tobias Krettenauer

Advisor Role

Dr. Tobias Krettenauer


Research on moral identity has not provided evidence for age-related trajectories in moral identity development. There has been a focus on a specific age range, particularly adolescence and emerging adulthood, ignoring older age groups and their development. In addition, research has focused on broad notions of intrinsic versus extrinsic moral motivation, without taking into consideration the various contexts in which moral behavior is expressed. There exists no current research on age differences in moral motivation. This study investigated differences in moral motivation across four consecutive age groups; adolescence (14-18 years, n = 67, 41 females), emerging adulthood (19-25 years, n = 52, 29 females), young adulthood (26-45 years, n = 66, 43 females), and middle age (46-65 years, n = 67, 35 females). In addition, moral motivation was examined across three different contexts; family, school/work, and community. Overall, 252 participants completed a semistructured interview. Results showed that internal moral motivation increased with age between adolescence and young adulthood, plateauing at middle age; while external moral motivation decreased with age across the four age groups. In addition, external moral motivation was highest in the context of school/work, than in the context of family and community; while internal moral motivation was higher in the contexts of family and community than in the context of school/work. The implications of this study are that we now have an increased awareness of the trajectory of moral identity development across the life span; as well as increased knowledge of what motivates individuals to behave morally in various contexts of life.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season