Towards Understanding Adolescents’ Adaptation to School Moral Norms: Development and Validation of the Student Moral Adaptability Questionnaire
Towards Understanding Adolescents’ Adaptation to School Moral Norms:
Development and Validation of the Student Moral Adaptability Questionnaire
Aaron D. Haddock
This study reports on the initial development and validation of the Student Moral Adaptability Questionnaire (SMAQ) with a sample of 609 (54% female) students in Grades 7 and 8 in California. The SMAQ is a 24-item self-report instrument for assessing youths’ adaptability to the moral and social norms at school composed of two scales – the Moral Incongruence with School Scale (MISS) and the Moral Congruence with School Scale (MCSS). The MISS is operationalized via four subscales measuring cognitive restructuration at school, minimizing own agency at school, disregarding/distorting negative impact of actions at school, and blaming/dehumanizing the victim at school. The MCSS is also operationalized via 4 subscales measuring school caring, school justice, school rules, and school moral identity. Findings supported the theoretical model underlying the SMAQ. Results from confirmatory factor analyses indicated that the two scales that structure the SMAQ, the MCSS and the MISS, were each characterized by four conceptually sound latent factors that were strong indicators of single second-order factors (i.e., moral incongruence with school and moral congruence with school). All subscales exhibited adequate construct reliability and internal consistency. Moreover, invariance analysis demonstrated that the factors structuring both scales were invariant across gender. In addition, bivariate correlations and a latent-variable path model provided evidence that (a) moral incongruence with school was a strong predictor of self-reported bullying behavior and moral disengagement and (b) moral congruence with school was a strong predictor of self-reported defending behavior. This study also provides an English translation and adaptation and preliminary psychometric evidence of validity for a 14-item scale for children embedded within a 24-item moral disengagement scale for adolescents. Implications for theory, practice, and research are discussed.
Keywords: adaptive behavior, ecological-developmental theory, moral development, moral disengagement, moral education, positive youth development, protective factors, risk factors, school climate, school psychology, situational action theory, social-cognitive domain theory, social-emotional learning.