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Psychol Bull. 2000 Sep;126(5):703-26.

Gender differences in moral orientation: a meta-analysis.

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Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison 53706, USA.


C. Gilligan's (1982) critique of L. Kohlberg's theory of moral reasoning and her assertion that two modes of moral reasoning (justice and care) exist have been the subject of debate within the field of psychology for more than 15 years. This meta-analysis was conducted to review quantitatively the work on gender differences in moral orientation. The meta-analysis revealed small differences in the care orientation favoring females (d = -.28) and small differences in the justice orientation favoring males (d = .19). Together, the moderator variables accounted for 16% of the variance in the effect sizes for care reasoning and 17% of the variance in the effect sizes for justice reasoning. These findings do not offer strong support for the claim that the care orientation is used predominantly by women and that the justice orientation is used predominantly by men.

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