Moral quotient as a mental capacity to determine means of people principles that ought to be applied on the values of goals and individual behaviour. Moral quotient is more fundamental than emotional quotient. Moral quotient as the ability to distinguish the right and the wrong is in accordance with the principles of people’s lives. Therefore, moral quotient is the ability to differentiate the right and the wrong based on a strong belief regarding ethics and apply it in actions. The development of moral quotient is a form of individual evaluation for what is right and what is wrong, and moral involves individual demand over the rules and it will have a say on individual behavior toward other people.
Keywords: constructing, quotient, moral, ethics, and action.
Moral quotient is the aptitude of understanding the right and the wrong things. It means having a strong belief of ethics and acting based on that belief, thus, people will behave correctly and honorably. This most important quotient embraces the main character, such as the ability to understand other people’s distress and not act fiercely; control the thrust and put off the gratification; listen to the various parties before giving the estimation; accept and appreciate diversities; be able to understand unethical choices; be able to empathize, fight for justice; and show love and respect to other people.
Those things are the main characters that will mould the youths to become kind-hearted, have strong character, and be a good citizen. We can see how young people are increasingly immersed in a wide range of serious issues since they never learn moral quotient. By the weak instinct, fragile self-control, lacking moral sensibility, and the improper belief, then they face many detentions. Although the cause of the decline of morality is awfully complex, there is a fact which cannot be denied: moral environment where they are raised these days is envenoming their moral quotient. Why can it be like that? First, some critical social factors constructing moral character slowly begins to decay, which are parents’ supervision, model of moral behaviour, spiritual and religious education, good relationship with older people, particular schools, evident norms, society support, stability and the right parenting. Second, children keep getting inputs which contradict the norms we develop. Those two factors contribute to the defect of our children’s morality in conjunction with disappearance of their plainness.
The challenge is getting bigger because those bad influences come up from various sources which are easy to adapt by children. TV programs, movies, video games, music, and even advertisements inflict the bad impact for their morality because those things show cynicism, harassment, materialism, free sex, and violence.
Likewise, bad things on the internet are shocking: porn, robbery and murder, satanic, pedophilia, and so many firebrand sites that show hatred that can even wriggle out of the best filter system. Of course the popular media is not the only thing that can give bad impact; whoever or whatever contradicts the belief of morality is the threat, including peers and older people.
The fact is that the negative impact is so entrenched in our culture, so that it’s almost impossible to deter our children from such influences. Though we have tried to restrict or prohibit that use of media at home, once they go out of home, they still can get it everywhere. That’s why constructing moral quotient is very important to carry out, so that conscience of children can distinguish the right and the wrong thing, with an eye to be able to prevent bad influence from the outside. Moral quotient becomes the strong muscles needed to counter bad tension and supply the kids then ability to act without any help from the parents.
Moral quotient as revealed by Michele Borba Ed. D. (2008), created by seven major benefactions, which are: empathy, conscience, self-control, respect, kindness, tolerance, and justice helping children face the challenges and ethics pressure that cannot be prevented in their lives in the future. All of them can be taught, imitated, realised, as well as encouraged, so that it can be achieved by the children.
First, empathy is the core of moral emotion helping children get on others’ feelings. This wisdom makes them sensitive to the others’ needs and feelings, encourage them to help people who are in difficulty, and demand them to treat people with love. The strong moral emotion encourage the children to act right because they can see others’ difficulty so that prevent them doing the actions that can harm or hurt other people.
Second, conscience is scruple helping children choose the right way rather than the wrong one and be in the moral path; that makes them feel guilty when they digress from the proper path. This virtue fortifies children from the bad influences and makes them be able to take a right action while being tempted to do the opposite. This virtue is the foundation for the development of honesty, responsibility, and high self-integrated.
Third, self-control helps children chokes back the thrust inside and think before they do something, so that they do the right things, and less likely to set their hand on something that will bring about the bad impacts. This virtue helps them be independent because they know that they can control their own actions. This nature is able to eliminate the desire of contenting themselves and also stimulate the awareness of concerning with others’ needs.
Fourth, respect encourages children to behave well and respect other people. This virtue directs them to treat people as they want to be treated, so it prevents them to be rude, unfair, and hostile. If children are used to being respectful toward people, they will have an eye for people’s rights and feelings; as the result, they also will respect their self.
Fifth, kindness helps children be able to show their concern for the welfare and feelings of other people. By developing this virtue, they will compassionate and not concern about themselves too much, and also realize with the goodwill as a genuine action. Kindness makes children think about others’ needs more, show concern, give a hand to those who need, and protect those who are in difficulties or pains.
Sixth, tolerance makes children be able to appreciate diversity of the quality inside other people, open up to the new viewpoint and belief, and respect other people without discriminating ethnic, gender, appearance, culture, belief, capability, or sexual orientation. This virtue gets the children treat other people well and fully understand them, go against hostility, violence, bigotry, and appreciate other people based on their character.
Seventh, as a parent you need to give guidance to your children, so that they can treat other people well and impartially. Thus, they will obey the rules, be willing to take turns and share, likewise, listen to every side openly before giving any judgment. Since this virtue escalates children’s moral sensitivity, they will also be encouraged to defend those who are treated unfairly and demand to treat everyone equally regardless of tribe, nationality, culture, economic status, ability or belief.
Constructing moral quotient gives a blue print step by step to increase moral capacity of the children based on the principles of ethics of those seven virtues. Each time a child succeeds in mastering one virtue, his/her moral quotient increases, and he/she is one step higher to the level of morality.
2.1 The History of Development of Moral Quotient
Moral development is one of important things in children personal and social development. Moral development originally entered into one field of ethics, but around 1930 a research about phenomenon of morality in America and Europe was conducted. Then in 1950 the concern about moral began to encourage its development of study about moral.
Coles (2001) defined moral as: The capacity to understand right from wrong, it means to have strong ethical conviction and to act on them so that one’s behaves in the right and honorable way. This wonderful aptitude encompasses such essential life characteristic as the ability to recognize some one’s pain and to stop oneself from acting on cruel intentions; to control one’s impulse and delay gratifications; to listen openly to all sides before judging; to accept and appreciate differences; to stand up against injustice, and to treat others with compassion and respect. It can be interpreted as a moral that: The capacity to get on the right and the wrong things, which means having strong ethical belief and acting on it, so that people behave in the in an honored and right way. This good aptitude involves the characteristics of important life like the ability to recognize someone’s debilities, and to prevent from doing bad things; to control someone’s impulse and tardiness of gift-giving; to listen to people openly before judging; to accept and appreciate diversity; and treat other people with love and respect.
Whereas, Borba (2008) emphasized that moral quotient is defined as the ability of interpreting the right and the wrong things and having strong stance to think and behave in accordance with moral values. On the other side, Lennick & Kiel (2005) explained that moral quotient is a mental capacity to determine the way of the principles of people that should be applied on the value of aims and individual behavior. Moral quotient is more fundamental than emotional quotient. Moral quotient is defined as the ability to distinguish the right and the wrong that corresponds to the principles of people’s lives.
From those opinions mentioned above, it can be summed up that the development of moral quotient is a phase of individual evaluation over the rules and it will affect on individual behavior of others.
2.2 The Approach of Development of Moral Quotient
The approach of development moral quotient can be reviewed from three perspectives of theory as follows:
1) Psychoanalysis Theory
Freud as the fuse of this theory clarified someone’s development into three areas that are sequentially, i.e. das es, das ich, and das ueber ich. Das es is the first development that leads to impulses of lust, while das ich is the development keeping touch with the reality to be coordinated. Then the last one is das ueber ich. It’s moral development where the norm is viewed as an agency that has been internalized and projected by the environment.
2) Cognitive Theory
The approach of cognitive theory emphasizes on the definition and understanding, where Piaget had done so many researches on this issue. Piaget (Suparno, 2001) stated that, to develop moral on children can be started from rules made in games. In that games, a kid can learn to respect, appreciate others. The level of moral development according to Piaget, namely, first, morality heteronomous stage (absolute phase) is an ability to understand moral issues, such as lie, robbery, punishment, and justice at the age of 4-7. Justice and rules are conceived as the nature of world that cannot be changed and out of humans’ control. Children will live up to the rules as something that cannot be changed and parents, teachers or government is the authority that has to be obeyed to avoid punishment, so that moral is indicated as external object that isn’t allowed to change. Second, transition stage (realistic phase) is the phase that shows manner between hetenomous morality and antomous morality. A kid can adjust himself to avoid rejection from others. In this phase, children will see the authority as they are. Here, they will leave unilateral respect to authority, for example their parents and they will develop respect to their peers. Third, antonomus morality, the stage which is more complex than two stages before that exists in children aged ten years and over. Then this Piaget theory was relied upon by Kohlberg to be a better theory. Kohlberg divided morality development into three phases, each of which has two different stages, namely:
(1) Pre conventional Reasoning
A kid will base him/herself on objects outside the individual as a measure of right and wrong. He/she will interpret the right and the wrong based on the consequences of actions of hedonistic form of punishment: a. stage 1: punishment and obedience orientation. It is an orientation of moral development emphasizing on punishment and the level of compliance. An action said to be true if someone is not punished and wrong if he/she gets punished. One has to obey the more powerful authority and a kid has to obey his/her parents because he/she is told to be obedient. In this stage children will obey or demand to avoid punishments; b. stage 2: individualism and purpose are the orientation of moral development counting heavily on individualism and objectives. Children will be obedient because they feel that by being obedient they will get something they want (benefits for them). What is true for them is something considered to be beneficial. Besides, in this stage moral is based on benefits and self-interest. In this stage, a kid will be conformity to get presents and regarded by others; c. stage 3: interpersonal norm, is a stage focusing on interpersonal norms. One appreciates truth, care, and loyalty toward others a cornerstone of moral consideration. Children often adopt the moral standard of their parents and look forward appreciation from them as good children. So that they will judge something is good if they can please others and regarded as good as a nice kid with that is expected by parents or surroundings. In this stage children will be in conformity to avoid disapproval and be endeared by others; d. stage 4: social system morality, in this stage thing that works is social moral system. It means a kid sees social rules as something that have to be kept. One is considered to have high moral standard if he does his tasks. He thus preserves rules and social system. And the consideration taken is based on understanding of social rules, obligation, punishment and justice. In this stage, children will be in conformity to maintain systems of social rules existing in a common life; e. stage 5: social construction or utility versus individual right, in this stage, there is the understanding of the rules with controls in this stage or agreement between someone and other people. Thus, relative rules and values as well as standard of every person are different. Someone is convinced that rules and law are important but they can be changed without decreasing the values of them. In this stage conformity is carried out because it fulfills collective agreements existing in social rules; and f. stage 6: universal ethical principles, if rules and norms are subjective, then so are the limits. Someone develops the standard of moral based on human rights universally, and when he faces conflict between law and conscience, then, he would follow his conscience albeit risky for himself. In this stage conformity is carried out not because of instruction or norms from the outside but process of internalization because of belief to do it.
(2) Conventional Reasoning
This stage bases on social expectation which is something considered right if it is in accordance with the regulations in society. So, the concept in the matter of good and bad things is based on the norms in society.
3) Learning theory
In this theory it is stated that all of behavior is one thing learned. This theory refuses behavior as manifestation of nature. Because if what is good in society certainly is not necessarily good for other communities. This theory states that conscience is one system of norm which has been internalized into private property. It is intended that someone will keep doing norms even if there is no control from outside. If previously he did something based on reward or punishment from outside, it is now diverted inside. Thus, norms that have been internalized make someone sure to act according to what should be done.
The development of moral quotient in this learning theory observes the phenomenon of conscience through questions about reaction to the offense and defense against temptation. An acceptance of parents to their children and full gift of love will develop and form good conscience. From the given consistency, children will learn moral behavior consistently and not depend on the situation. And from the comparative study it is shown that morality is a statement of the need for order and balance, as well as an effort towards giving meaning despite there is historical, social, and individual change.
According to Kohlberg (Santo, 1995), most of people do not reach the stage of post-conventional reasoning or experience delays in achieving it due to cultural factors. Based on his research, 10% of American teenagers attain the stage of this post-conventional reasoning at the age of 16. Then Kohlberg added that moral development can be stimulated by moral education. But what has been explained by Piaget and Kohlberg regarding the development of moral quotient started from childhood is different from what has been stated by Furter (1965). In the review of his phenomenological, Furter explained it in three ways, namely:
(1) The real moral behavior is emerging in adolescence.
(2) Adolescence as the period of youth is something that has to be internalized to attain the autonomous moral behavior. So that the teenagers can adopt moral value in their surrounding as personal value.
(3) The existence of youth is moral problem and has to be seen as concerned with values. So that not only teenagers does get the definition of values but also they are able to do it.
And also Furter explained that the development of moral quotient very concerns about the development of cognition and social cognition. The development of cognition is considered as one of the absolute prerequisite for the development of social cognition, while development of social cognition is the absolute requisite for moral development. In other words, if a person has barriers in the development of cognition and social, it can be inferred that he is also hampered in his moral development. On the other hand, Berns (2007) explained some theories of moral quotient and classified them into three components, namely:
(a) Affective component/emotional moral (moral feeling), this component was developed by Hoffman, and the examples are guilt, shame, and empathy.
(b) Cognitive component (moral reasoning), this component was developed Piaget and Kohlberg, where someone who has moral quotient can be seen from the way he understands the rules, distinguishes the right and the wrong, be able to accept other people’s point of view and take good decisions.
(c) Behavioral component (moral action), this component was developed by Eisenberg and Fabes, where moral quotient can be seen from someone’s ability to respond harassment coming to stick to the rules, social behavior, self-control by the encouragement that appears.
2.3 Constructing Moral Quotient
Martin Hoffman (2000), a renowned expert in the development of moral, believes that children develop their empathy in some stages. Started from egocentric stage, self-centered, views that always think about themselves until the stage where they not only care about others. Those stages include:
Stage 1: General Empathy (the first month of birth)
A kid cannot make a clear demarcation between himself and his environment, so he cannot understand others’ misery because they consuder it as a part of him. For example: “A six-month-old baby hears other babies crying and then they cry too.”
Stage 2: Egocentric Empathy (starting from 1 year old)
The reaction of a kid toward other children who are in pain slowly begins to change. He now understands that inconvenience of other people is no longer their part of him. For example: “A two-year-old kid is seeing his mom crying then he is sitting next to her, and gently stroking his mom’s hands.”
Stage 3: Emotional Empathy (The first years of school)
At the age of about two or three years, a child begins to develop the ability to portray someone else. He recognizes that someone’s feeling might be different from his that could very well determine the sources of the suffering of others and he figures out the simple way to give a help and shows his support. For example: “You look sad. Your bike is broken, you can ride mine instead.”
Stage 4: Cognitive Empathy (First years of Elementary School, started from six years old)
In this stage a kid is able to understand the problems from the viewpoint of others, so there will be an enhancement in his effort to support and help the needs of others. His ability to use language to help others also rises rapidly. For example: “That old woman seems to need help to go on the elevator, thought Kelly; then she held the door of the elevator, so that that old woman can get in safely.”
Stage 5: Abstract Empathy (Last years of childhood, age ten to 12)
In this stage a kid can broaden his empathy over things they know personally and directly observe society he has not met yet. For example: “Indians look starving. If I donate my money, they may feel better.”
Based on some explanations mentioned above, it can be inferred:
1.1 Moral quotient is the ability of someone to distinguish the right and the wrong based on the strong belief toward ethics and apply it in actions. The development of moral quotient is a form of individual evaluation on what is right and what is wrong and moral involves individual acceptance on the rules and it will take effect on individual behavior toward others.
1.2 Moral quotient is built on seven main virtues, namely: empathy, conscience, self-control, respect, kindness, tolerance, and justice helping children face the challenges and ethics pressures that cannot be avoided in their future. All of those virtues can be taught, exemplified, disenchanted, and encouraged, so they can be attained by children.
1.3 The approach of moral quotient can be seen through psychoanalysis, cognitive theory and learning theory.
1.4 How to build moral quotient includes: general empathy, egocentric, emotion, cognitive, and abstract empathy.
Andra L. Cole & J. Gary Knowles (Eds.) (2001).Lives in Context: The Art of Life History Research. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
Borba,Michele Ed.D.(2008). Membangun Kecerdasan Moral.Jakarta: Gramedia Pustaka Utama.
Doug Lennick & Fred Kiel.(2005). Moral Intellegence; Enhancing Business Performance & Leadership Success.Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Martin Hoffman. (2000). Empathy and Moral Development: Implication For Caring and Justice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Santo, John de.(1995). Tahap-tahap Perkembangan Moral.Lawrence Kohlberg.Yogyakarta: Kanisius.
Suparno, Paul. (2001). Teori Perkembangan Kognitif Jean Piaget. Yogyakarta: Kanisius.
Full name : Prof. Dr.H. Endang Komara, M.Si
Place and date of birth : Purwakarta, July 19, 1964
Last Education : Doctor, University of Padjadjaran
Occupation : Lecturer on Master of Social Science Education of STKIP Pasundan Cimahi
Home Address : Jl. Jati Indah IV No. 6, Kelurahan Gumuruh
Kecamatan Batununggal Kota Bandung 40264
Campus Address : Jl. Permana No. 32B Cimahi, Telp. 022 6628311
Bandung, February 18, 2017
Prof. Dr. H. Endang Komara, M.Si