How does moral motivation develop across the life span? Previous research has indicated that moral exemplars have integrated the typically oppositional motives of agency and communion. The present research maps developmental trajectories in these motives that may lead to this end-point integration. Participants were 140 Canadians comprising four age groups (childhood, adolescence, emerging adulthood, and mid-adulthood). Agentic and communal motivation was assessed in an interview that asked participants about aspects of their lives and prompted for the instrumental–terminal framing of their motives. Results indicated that agency was the dominant instrumental motive for all ages. In terms of terminal values, agency was the dominant motive early in development; however, the effect progressively weakened and, by mid-adulthood, had dissipated. The pattern of instrumental agency for communal goals increased across the age groups, implying that replacing agency with communion as the characteristic terminal motive represents an important goal for moral development.
Walker, Lawrence J. and Frimer, Jeremy A.
"Developmental Trajectories of Agency and Communion in Moral Motivation,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 61
, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol61/iss3/5