In search of an everyday morality: the development of a measure.

C. M. Shelton*, D. P. McAdams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Current interest in moral theorizing has been dominated by Kohlberg's cognitive-developmental view. Haan (1982) has challenged psychology's reliance on this rationalistic focus and has argued for a rethinking of morality's meaning in accord with everyday human experience. In light of this challenge, the present study gives both theoretical and empirical support to the advancement of a morality for everyday life. Specifically, a new measure called the Visions of Morality Scale (VMS) is reported. The VMS is sensitive to three dimensions which are necessary for an everyday morality: (1) a human constitutive component which is universally experienced by all human beings (empathy); (2) the inclusion of a behavioral component which reflects actual behavior (pro-social inclinations); and (3) a view of morality that is multilevel (private, interpersonal, and social). A brief sketch of the VMS is provided. Results are presented from a study of 181 high school students which relate the VMS to empathy and political orientation. Highly significant relationships were found among morality, political orientation, and empathy. In addition, results revealed numerous sex differences. Finally, the implications of an everyday morality are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)923-943
Number of pages21
Issue number100
StatePublished - Dec 1 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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