The relationship between moral reasoning and the multidimensional model of racial identity

Emmeline Cook Houck, Tennessee State University


Research has suggested that there may be a racial component embedded in an individual’s moral development (Moreland & Leach, 2001). As a result, the inclusion of racial identity awareness is important in programs designed to increased moral identity in individuals from various backgrounds, especially individuals from the African American culture (Ward, 1995). Research in this area is still growing and the field has yet to investigate the relationship between the Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity (MMRI) (Sellers et al., 1998) and moral development. The purpose of this study was to examine the characteristics of the scores obtained on the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity (MIBI) as well as the relationship between these scores and scores obtained on a measure of moral reasoning, the Defining Issues Test (DIT). It was hypothesized that the variance found on the DIT would be significantly related to various scales of the MIBI. Specifically, it was proposed that participants that endorsed a high level of racial centrality, positive public and private racial regard, and identified with the humanist and nationalist ideologies would receive higher scores on the DIT. Participants were recruited from undergraduate and graduate psychology courses at a mid-south HBCU. This study utilized both a factorial research design and simple linear regression. Results of the study indicated that participants’ scores on the DIT did not vary significantly as a result of any of the proposed variables. Of note, the results of this study did not indicate that any racial ideology was associated with higher levels of moral reasoning; a finding that is consistent with the assumption of the MMRI that no philosophy is inherently better. This study provided important methodological and theoretical implications for future research, proposing that future researchers conceptualize racial regard as a fluid construct when examining its relationship with moral reasoning. Finally, this study considered the appropriateness and usefulness of the MMRI when conducting moral reasoning research.

Subject Area

Psychology|Ethnic studies

Recommended Citation

Emmeline Cook Houck, "The relationship between moral reasoning and the multidimensional model of racial identity" (2010). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3418658.