chapter  13
Sociohistoric Changes in the Structure of Moral Motivation
Pages 36

Morality requires not only knowledge ofmoral rules but also thewillingness to

abide by them. People differ with respect to moral motivation. Some do not

care at all about morality; others follow norms even at high personal costs (in-

tensity of moral motivation). They also differ in the types of concernsmotivat-

ing their conformity and the way these are anchored in the personality

(structure of moral motivation). The study reported in this chapter deals with

the question of whether there are generational differences indicating

sociohistoric changes in the structure of moral motivation. In the first section I

discuss theoretical assumptions. Socialization theories are briefly reviewed,

learning mechanisms for social conformity are extracted, the corresponding

types of concerns are classified according to ego syntony and moral affinity,

and these concerns are critically related to Kohlberg’s theory of moral devel-

opment. The central hypothesis-that there is a sociohistoric change in the

structure of social conformity toward increased ego syntony-is then derived

within the theoretical framework of Norbert Elias’ (Elias, 1978a, 1978b) the-

ory of civilization. In the second section I empirically substantiate the main

claim. Data on children’s moral understanding are briefly recapitulated that

show that an intrinsic judgment-related (ego syntonic) type of moral motiva-

tion does exist. The results of an intergenerational comparison of types of con-

cerns motivating norm conformity, which was conducted in Germany, are

presented. In the third section I argue that the changes in the structure of moral

motivation correspond to changes in the cognitive understanding of morality

that are first theoretically exposed and then empirically supported.