Individualism, communitarianism and the question of a communal morality in high school teachers

Susana Frisancho, Fordham University


This study explored how the political-philosophical ideologies of individualism and communitarianism are expressed psychologically in the self, and how these ideologies are related to teachers' moral judgment and the moral culture of three types of schools in the city of Lima, Peru. Participants were 59 high school teachers, men and women, aged 23 to 55. A Demographic Questionnaire, the Moral Judgment Interview (MJI), the Moral Self Interview (MSI), the Communitarianism and Individualism Interview and the Socio-Moral Complexity of School Interview (SMC) were used in this study. Results indicated that teachers were mostly oriented towards the community, which was understood as a group of people who perform the same kind of activities or towards whom the person is attached. Results also indicated that moral judgment of teachers fell within the conventional range (levels 3 and 4). There were no significant differences on level of moral judgment among the three types of schools, although a significant difference in moral judgment was found between teachers' ideological orientation (teachers with a clearer ideology had higher moral judgment). The majority of teachers described themselves using personal trait and social categories, and used strategies as rules for living. There was a statistically significant relationship between moral self description and school type; teachers from the Public school tended to describe themselves in social terms, whereas teachers from Progressive schools tended to do the same using principles. There was a statistically significant difference in frequency of SMC median across type of school, but no significant relationships between the SMC medians and age of the teachers, years of teaching experience, and years of teaching in current school. No significant relationship was found either between sociomoral complexity of the school and level of moral development (MR).

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Frisancho, Susana, "Individualism, communitarianism and the question of a communal morality in high school teachers" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3216908.