Developing an understanding of the literature pertaining to the moral development of people with intellectual disabilities. Developmental Review

Peter E. Langdon, Isabel C. H. Clare, Glynis H. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Recent reviews of moral development theory (Gibbs, Basinger, Grime, & Snarey, 2007) demonstrate that revisionist theoretical perspectives have cross cultural validity, but moral development in relation to people with intellectual disabilities (IDs) has not been considered within this literature. A structured review of the published literature relating to children, adolescents and adults with IDs, and moral development was carried out. Twenty studies meeting the inclusion criteria were found. The review indicated that people with IDs may not progress through the developmental stages of moral reasoning as quickly as typically developing peers, or reach the more advanced stages. This difference from non-disabled peers tends to disappear if groups are matched on some measure of cognitive ability. However, the studies are fraught with methodological problems and there is a need for further research, given the theoretical developments within the area of moral development, including the evidence of a relationship between moral development and anti-social behaviour amongst typically developing children and adolescents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-293
Number of pages21
JournalDevelopmental Review
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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