Gilligan and Attanucci 1988

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Gilligan and Attanucci (1988)
Aim: Was to test the hypothesis that as younger children girls are more inclined towards caring, and
boys are more inclined towards justice. Gilligan suggests that this difference is due to gender and the
child's relationship with the mother.
Key Points:
Gilligan challenged Kohlberg's claim that all moral reasoning is `justice reasoning'.
Gilligan argued that women's moral judgements necessarily include feelings of compassion
and empathy for others, as well as concern for commitments that arise out of relationships.
Gilligan identified two `moral voices' that arise from two distinct developmental pathways.
According to Gilligan, the male voice emphasises independence (`separation') and
responsibility for oneself, whereas the female voice emphasises interdependence
(`connection') and responsibility to others.
Like Kohlberg, Gilligan identified several stages of moral development:
Level 1 ­ Self-Oriented. Focus is on the needs of oneself. Here, the survival of oneself is of
sole concern.
Level 2 ­ Other-Oriented. Focus is on the needs of others. Here, the self adopts the
traditional conception of feminine goodness, the maternal morality of self-sacrifice, where
the good is equated with caring for others. Consequently, one's own needs become
Level 3 ­ Universal-Oriented. Focus is on the universal obligation of caring. Here, care is a
self-chosen principle that condemns exploitation, violence, and neglect and demands active
response to suffering. Caring for oneself and others is seen as intertwined because the self
and other are recognized as interdependent. Thus, all acts of caring are seen as beneficial to
both self and others.
Carol Gilligan and J. Attanucci (1988) found that 65% of males used a `justice only' orientation, 32%
used a `justice and care mixed' orientation, and none used a `care only' orientation. In contrast, 35%
of females used a `care only' orientation, 35% used a `justice and care mixed' orientation, and 29%
used a `justice only' orientation. Gilligan and Attanucci concluded that both men and women can use
justice and care orientations, but men tend to gravitate towards a justice orientation, whereas
women tend to gravitate towards a care orientation. They further concluded that women appear to
be more willing (or able) to use a justice orientation than men are willing (or able) to use a care
Advantages of this study:
Her work has influenced other psychologists in their evaluation of morality.
Highlights that people think about other people in a humanly caring way.
Emphasised that both men and women think about caring when faced with relationship
dilemmas, similarly both are likely to focus on justice when faced with dilemmas involving
others rights.
Criticisms of this study:
It follows the stereotype of women as nurturing, men as logical.
The participants are limited to mostly white, middle class children and adults.


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