Correlates and Age-Related Differences in Adults'_Tendencies to Seek Moral Approbation from the Self


Megan Gately
Taylor Wadian


By Megan Gately, Psychology

Advisor: Taylor Wadian

Abstract: Research has shown that some individuals in morally challenging situations tend to seek the approval of others when deciding on the "right" action, while others tend to rely on their own internalized values (Ryan & Ciavarella, 2002). Although_prior research has demonstrated_that those who rely on their own internalized values (i.e., heightened "desired moral approbation from the self") tend to have a low need for social approval,_research_has yet to_examine the extent to which_desired moral approbation from the self is related_to factors that characterize_internalized moral values (Moral Identity) and sense of self (Presence of_Meaning_in_Life), or how these factors may change with age. The present study was designed to address these gaps using a sample of 222 adults representing early (ages 20-40) and older (ages 45-65) adulthood. Results revealed that desired moral approbation from the self and moral identity increased during the transition from early adulthood to older adulthood. Further, the more adults in both age groups reported that they seek moral approbation from the self, the higher they scored on measures of moral identity and the presence of meaning of life, and the less they reported that they seek social approval from others. However, the association between desired moral approbation from self and the search for meaning in life was moderated by age. The more older, but not younger, adults indicated that they are searching for meaning in their life, the less they indicated they seek moral approbation from themselves.


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