Personality Structure and Moral Development: Exploring the Interface

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There are many theories of personality but scattered within these theories is only an occasional glimmer of the connection between personality structure and personal morality. Terms deeply embedded in our lexicon speak to the same issues but with very different meanings. A moralist, for example, might see a capable but low productivity person as lazy or lacking in will power whereas a psychologist might see the same person as fearing failure, caught up in a familial pattern of hopelessness and defeat or as amotivational due to brain damage. A moralist might conceive a "gossop" to be a ‘busy body’, or 'two-faced’, or as having an ‘idle tongue’. Psychological explanations might refer to ‘lack of assertiveness’, ‘fear of confrontation’, or ‘low self-esteem’. Is gossiping a free choice (an ethical issue) or a pre-programmed (and thus pre-determined) response, a psychological issue? The proposed paper will deal with these and other examples such as: Why are some people jealous and envious while others are not? Why are some proud and self-righteous while others are humble and generous of spirit? Why, in essence, is it easier for each of us to adhere to certain parts of our chosen moral code (e.g. the 10 commandments) than other parts? Finally, the question as to whether one of these systems can supercede the other, rendering the latter both inaccurate and inadequate, will be explored.


Keywords: Moral Terminology, Personality Structure, Moral Judgment, Psychosocial Explanations of Behavior
Stream: Psychology, Cognitive Science and Behavioural Sciences
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Personality Structure and Moral Development


Dr. Emma Pivato

Visiting Professor, Athabasca University
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

I have an M.A. in Philosophy (Existentialist Ethics) and a Ph. D. in Educational Psychology (Creativity Theory) as well as post-graduate training in psychopharmacology and psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I have 25 years experience as a clinical and consulting psychologist in hospital, school and community settings. Special interests include disability studies (a book and various papers and conference presentations) and personality theory with special emphasis on Cluster B (conference presentations and development of special group training sessions for clients). MAIS courses I have developed and offer include: 'The Evolution of Psychotherapy', 'Personality Disorder in History, Literature, Film and Life' and 'Executive Functions". I also teach a course on Behavioral Analysis authored by another professor.

Ref: I08P0214