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Different crime types and moral reasoning development in young offenders compared with non-offender controls

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On empirical and theoretical grounds, it is argued that different patterns of moral reasoning development and moral values may characterise different types of offender. Male offenders in six youth correctional institutions in Taiwan and controls from one junior and two senior high schools participated in the study. Self-reported criminal histories were classified according to their characteristic offence type (Drug, Violent, or Theft). Overall moral reasoning development stage, as well as the five individual moral values, were significantly less mature in offenders than in controls despite the offenders' mean age being higher. The moral value Life differentiated crime types since this was less mature in the violent offenders. Moral reasoning cognitive-developmental delay models were only of limited usefulness in differentiating offender types but were good at differentiating offenders from non-offenders. It is suggested that a more sophisticated understanding of the role of moral reasoning development in the study of crime is needed.
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Keywords: Moral cognitive development; crime types; cross-cultural; delinquents; moral reasoning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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