Does Morality Predict Student Involvement at Penn State University?

Open Access
Author:
Skocik, Jessica Lynn
Area of Honors:
Sociology
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Eric Silver, Thesis Supervisor
  • Jeffery Todd Ulmer, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • morality
  • involvement
  • extra-curricular activities
  • student
  • Penn state
Abstract:
The current study is an exploration of Jonathan Haidt’s Moral Foundations Theory as it applies to student participation in extra-curricular activities at Penn State University. The key questions in the research are (1) whether or not morals are a factor in the decisions students make about what activities they participate in and (2) which aspects of morality align with which types of groups students become involved in. The research involved a quantitative survey conducted online as well as qualitative interviews conducted using a convenience sample of Penn State undergraduate students. Findings indicate that morality plays a role in both current and desired student involvement in extracurricular activities at Penn State University. In addition, my second hypothesis was partially supported by the findings; students’ involvement in activities aligned with predicted aspects of morality some of the time. Overall, the research supports Haidt’s moral foundations theory in the context of student involvement at Penn State and opens up avenues for further research related to morals as a predictor of general human behavior as well as education policy implications at the collegiate level.