Doctors and medical students rank near the top when it comes to making decisions based on universal moral principles of justice and equality, a new study says.
The study by academics who used the "defining issues test," which measures individual moral development in decision-making, found that medical students and practicing physicians ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, compared with those in other professions and students.
The study used "P" scores, which measure the percentage of time that an individual acts with universal principles, authors said. Medical students scored 50.10 and practicing physicians scored 49.20. A score of 40% is about average, meaning that the highest stages of universal principles are used four of every 10 times.
Renita Coleman, an assistant professor at Louisiana State University, said the top rankings in medicine might be due to the fact that medical schools feature a heavy dose of ethics study. The No. 1 category on the list was occupied by seminarians/philosophers. ("After all, it's what they do for a living," Coleman said.)
Surprisingly, journalists -- the focus of the study and working in a profession that hasn't exactly been embraced by the public lately -- ranked fourth. As might be expected, prison inmates did poorly, ranking next-to-last, just above junior high students whose position probably can be explained by undeveloped moral principles among youth, Coleman explained.