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Date of Award


Degree Type

Dissertation (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Catherine Miller, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Genevieve Arnaut, Ph.D., Psy.D.

Third Advisor

Michel Hersen, Ph.D., ABPP


Extensive research comparing moral reasoning in delinquent and non-delinquent adolescents has been performed (Hains & Miller, 1980; Hanson & Mullis, 1984; Palmer, 2003; Tavecchio, Starns, Brugman, & Thomeer-Bouwens, 1999). In general, researchers 'I have tended to group all delinquent adolescents into one category, and non-delinquent adolescents have reported higher levels of moral reasoning than delinquent adolescents. This study was designed to examine differences in moral reasoning between high- and low-risk juvenile delinquent adolescents. Forty high-risk male adolescents and 33 low risk male adolescents involved in the Clark County Washington Juvenile Justice System participated in this study which was based on the hypothesis that low-risk adolescents would report higher levels of moral reasoning compared to high-risk adolescents. The Washington State Juvenile Court Assessment (Barno ski, 2004a) was utilized as the basis for determining adolescent risk level and the Defining Issues Test, Version 2 (Rest & Narvaez, 1998) was utilized to measure moral reasoning. Results of this study supported the hypothesis and demonstrated that there are significant differences between these two groups; low-risk males reported significantly higher levels of moral reasoning than high risk males. Findings of this research may contribute to increased knowledge about adolescent decision making, differences between high- and low-risk juvenile delinquents, and treatment interventions for these two groups. IV


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