Research and Publications - Department of Psychology

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    Examining the Aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans: A Qualitative Study of Faculty and Staff Perceptions
    (Hindawi, 2012) Burnham, Joy J.; Hooper, Lisa M.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Researchers have reported how Hurricane Katrina has affected teachers who work with Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12), yet little is known about how the natural disaster has affected other important K-12 faculty and staff (e. g., coaches, librarians, school counselors, and cafeteria workers). Missing from the literature is the impact that this natural disaster has had on these formal (school counselors) and informal (coaches, librarians) helpers of K-12 students. Using a focus group methodology, the authors examined the aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina on 12 school employees in New Orleans, Louisiana, 18 months after the hurricane. Informed by qualitative content analysis, three emergent themes were identified: emotion-focused aftereffects, positive coping, and worry and fear. The implications for future research and promoting hope in mental health counseling are discussed.
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    Attainable and Relevant Moral Exemplars Are More Effective than Extraordinary Exemplars in Promoting Voluntary Service Engagement
    (Frontiers, 2017) Han, Hyemin; Kim, Jeongmin; Jeong, Changwoo; Cohen, Geoffrey L.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; Seoul National University (SNU); Stanford University
    The present study aimed to develop effective moral educational interventions based on social psychology by using stories of moral exemplars. We tested whether motivation to engage in voluntary service as a form of moral behavior was better promoted by attainable and relevant exemplars or by unattainable and irrelevant exemplars. First, experiment 1, conducted in a lab, showed that stories of attainable exemplars more effectively promoted voluntary service activity engagement among undergraduate students compared with stories of unattainable exemplars and non-moral stories. Second, experiment 2, a middle school classroom-level experiment with a quasi-experimental design, demonstrated that peer exemplars, who are perceived to be attainable and relevant to students, better promoted service engagement compared with historic figures in moral education classes.
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    Effectiveness of an Intervention for Children with Externalizing Behavior and Mild to Borderline Intellectual Disabilities: A Randomized Trial
    (Springer, 2017) Schuiringa, Hilde; van Nieuwenhuijzen, Maroesjka; de Castro, Bram Orobio; Lochman, John E.; Matthys, Walter; Utrecht University; Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; Utrecht University Medical Center
    This study evaluated the effectiveness of Standing Strong Together (SST), a combined group based parent and child intervention for externalizing behavior in 9-16 year-old children with mild to borderline intellectual disabilities (MBID). Children with externalizing behavior and MBID (IQ from 55 to 85) (N = 169) were cluster randomly assigned to SST combined with care as usual or to care as usual only. SST led to a significant benefit on teacher reported but not on parent reported externalizing behavior. SST had significant effects on parent rated positive parenting and the parent-child relationship. The present study shows that a multicomponent group based intervention for children with MBID is feasible and has the potential to reduce children's externalizing behavior and improve both parenting behavior and the parent-child relationship.
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    Biofunctional Understanding and Conceptual Control: Searching for Systematic Consensus in Systemic Cohesion
    (Frontiers, 2017) Iran-Nejad, Asghar; Bordbar, Fareed; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    For first generation scientists after the cognitive revolution, knowers were in active control over all (stages of) information processing. Then, following a decade of transition shaped by intense controversy, embodied cognition emerged and suggested sources of control other than those implied by metaphysical information processing. With a thematic focus on embodiment science and an eye toward systematic consensus in systemic cohesion, the present study explores the roles of biofunctional and conceptual control processes in the wholetheme spiral of biofunctional understanding (see Iran-Nejad and Irannejad, 2017b, Figure 1). According to this spiral, each of the two kinds of understanding has its own unique set of knower control processes. For conceptual understanding (CU), knowers have deliberate attention-allocation control over their first-person "knowthat" and "knowhow" content combined as mutually coherent corequisites. For biofunctional understanding (BU), knowers have attention-allocation control only over their knowthat content but knowhow control content is ordinarily conspicuously absent. To test the hypothesis of differences in the manner of control between CU and BU, participants in two experiments read identical-format statements for internal consistency, as response time was recorded. The results of Experiment 1 supported the hypothesis of differences in the manner of control between the two types of control processes; and Experiment 2 confirmed the results of Experiment 1. These findings are discussed in terms of the predicted differences between BU and CU control processes, their roles in regulating the physically unobservable flow of systemic cohesion in the wholetheme spiral, and a proposal for systematic consensus in systemic cohesion to serve as the second guiding principle in biofunctional embodiment science next to physical science's first guiding principle of systematic observation.
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    The Effects of Organizational Justice on Positive Organizational Behavior: Evidence froma Large-Sample Survey and a Situational Experiment
    (Frontiers, 2018) Pan, Xiaofu; Chen, Mengyan; Hao, Zhichao; Bi, Wenfen; Southwest University - China; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; Wuhan University
    Employees' positive organizational behavior (POB) is not only to promote organizational function but also improve individual and organizational performance. As an important concept in organizational research, organizational justice is thought to be a universal predictor of employee and organizational outcomes. The current set of two studies examined the effects of organizational justice (OJ) on POB of employees with two different studies, a large-sample survey and a situational experiment. In study 1, a total of 2,566 employees from 45 manufacturing enterprises completed paper-and-pencil questionnaires assessing organizational justice (OJ) and positive organizational behavior (POB) of employees. In study 2, 747 employees were randomly sampled to participate in the situational experiment with 2 x 2 between-subjects design. They were asked to read one of the four situational stories and to image that this situation happen to the person in the story or them, and then they were asked to imagine how the person in the story or they would have felt and what the person or they subsequently would have done. The results of study 1 suggested that OJ was correlated with POB of employees and OJ is a positive predictor of POB. The results of study 2 suggested that OJ had significant effects on POB and negative organizational behavior (NOB). Procedural justice accounted for significantly more variance than distributive justice in POB of employees. Distributive justice and procedural justice have different influences on POB and NOB in terms of effectiveness and direction. The effect of OJ on POB was greater than that of NOB. In addition, path analysis indicated that the direct effect of OJ on POB was smaller than its indirect effect. Thus, many intermediary effects could possibly be between them.
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    What You Know, What You Do, and How You Feel: Cultural Competence, Cultural Consonance, and Psychological Distress
    (Frontiers, 2018) Dressler, William W.; Balieiro, Mauro C.; dos Santos, Jose E.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; Universidade Paulista; Universidade de Sao Paulo
    Describing the link between culture (as a phenomenon pertaining to social aggregates) and the beliefs and behaviors of individuals has eluded satisfactory resolution; however, contemporary cognitive culture theory offers hope. In this theory, culture is conceptualized as cognitive models describing specific domains of life that are shared by members of a social group. It is sharing that gives culture its aggregate properties. There are two aspects to these cultural models at the level of the individual. Persons have their own representations of the world that correspond incompletely to the shared model-this is their 'cultural competence.' Persons are also variable in the degree to which they can put cultural models into practice in their own lives-this is their 'cultural consonance.' Low cultural consonance is a stressful experience and has been linked to higher psychological distress. The relationship of cultural competence per se and psychological distress is less clear. In the research reported here, cultural competence and cultural consonance are measured on the same sample and their associations with psychological distress are examined using multiple regression analysis. Results indicate that, with respect to psychological distress, while it is good to know the cultural model, it is better to put it into practice.
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    Comparing Different Approaches for Subtyping Children with Conduct Problems: Callous-Unemotional Traits Only Versus the Multidimensional Psychopathy Construct
    (Springer, 2018) Colins, Olivier F.; Andershed, Henrik; Salekin, Randall T.; Fanti, Kostas A.; Leiden University; Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC); Orebro University; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; University of Cyprus
    The aim of this study was to compare two youth psychopathy models (i.e., callous-unemotional versus multidimensional model) in their ability to predict future and stable conduct problems (CP). At baseline, mothers and fathers of 321 boys and 369 girls (ages 7-12) completed measures that tap callous-unemotional and other psychopathic traits. Parent-reported CP was collected at baseline and at 6- and 12 month follow-ups. Children were assigned to mutually exclusive groups based on their levels of CP and psychopathic traits. Children with CP who manifested callous-unemotional traits (Callous-Unemotional + CP) were occasionally at risk for future and stable CP. Yet, across gender, children with CP scoring high on all psychopathic trait dimensions (Psychopathic Personality + CP) showed the most robust and highest risk for future and stable CP. Also, Callous-Unemotional + CP children, and children who were only high in CP, often were at similar risk for future CP. The findings suggest that the callous-unemotional model is less sufficient than the multidimensional model in predicting future and stable CP. This can be concluded for both boys and girls and calls for more research reconsidering the multidimensional nature of psychopathy for CP subtyping purposes.
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    The Optimal Starting Model to Search for the Accurate Growth Trajectory in Latent Growth Models
    (Frontiers, 2018) Kim, Minjung; Hsu, Hsien-Yuan; Kwok, Oi-Man; Seo, Sunmi; Ohio State University; University of Texas Health Science Center Houston; Texas A&M University College Station; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    This simulation study aims to propose an optimal starting model to search for the accurate growth trajectory in Latent Growth Models (LGM). We examine the performance of four different starting models in terms of the complexity of the mean and within-subject variance-covariance(V-CV) structures when there are time-invariant covariates embedded in the population models. Results showed that the model search starting with the fully saturated model (i.e., the most complex mean and within-subject V-CV model) recovers best for the true growth trajectory in simulations. Specifically, the fully saturated starting model with using Delta BIC and Delta AIC performed best (over 95%) and recommended for researchers. An illustration of the proposed method is given using the empirical secondary dataset. Implications of the findings and limitations are discussed.
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    The Origin of Protoconversation: An Examination of Caregiver Responses to Cry and Speech-Like Vocalizations
    (Frontiers, 2018) Yoo, Hyunjoo; Bowman, Dale A.; Oller, D. Kimbrough; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; University of Memphis
    Turn-taking is a universal and fundamental feature of human vocal communication. Through protoconversation, caregivers play a key role for infants in helping them learn the turn-taking system. Infants produce both speech-like vocalizations (i.e., protophones) and cries from birth. Prior research has shown that caregivers take turns with infant protophones. However, no prior research has investigated the timing of caregiver responses to cries. The present work is the first to systematically investigate different temporal patterns of caregiver responses to protophones and to cries. Results showed that, even in infants' first 3 months of life, caregivers were more likely to take turns with protophones and to overlap with cries. The study provides evidence that caregivers are intuitively aware that protophones and cries are functionally different: protophones are treated as precursors to speech, whereas cries are treated as expressions of distress.
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    Title IX Mandated Reporting: The Views of University Employees and Students
    (MDPI, 2018) Newins, Amie R.; Bernstein, Emily; Peterson, Roselyn; Waldron, Jonathan C.; White, Susan W.; University of Central Florida; Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Per Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972, many university employees are mandated reporters of sexual assault. University employees (N = 174) and students (N = 783) completed an online survey assessing knowledge and opinions of this reporting requirement. University employees and students generally reported being quite knowledgeable of reporting requirements. Most university employees indicated they would report an incident disclosed by a student, but students were fairly ambivalent about whether they would disclose to faculty members. Nearly one in five students (17.2%) indicated that Title IX reporting requirements decreased their disclosure likelihood. These findings suggest that mandated reporting policies, as well as how they are presented to students and faculty, should be examined in order to increase compliance and facilitate disclosure.
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    Integrating Differential Evolution Optimization to Cognitive Diagnostic Model Estimation
    (Frontiers, 2018) Jiang, Zhehan; Ma, Wenchao; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    A log-linear cognitive diagnostic model (LCDM) is estimated via a global optimization approach- differential evolution optimization (DEoptim), which can be used when the traditional expectation maximization (EM) fails. The application of the DEoptim to LCDM estimation is introduced, explicated, and evaluated via a Monte Carlo simulation study in this article. The aim of this study is to fill the gap between the field of psychometric modeling and modern machine learning estimation techniques and provide an alternative solution in the model estimation.
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    Diagnostic Classification Models for Ordinal Item Responses
    (Frontiers, 2018) Liu, Ren; Jiang, Zhehan; University of California Merced; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The purpose of this study is to develop and evaluate two diagnostic classification models (DCMs) for scoring ordinal item data. We first applied the proposed models to an operational dataset and compared their performance to an epitome of current polytomous DCMs in which the ordered data structure is ignored. Findings suggest that the much more parsimonious models that we proposed performed similarly to the current polytomous DCMs and offered useful item-level information in addition to option-level information. We then performed a small simulation study using the applied study condition and demonstrated that the proposed models can provide unbiased parameter estimates and correctly classify individuals. In practice, the proposed models can accommodate much smaller sample sizes than current polytomous DCMs and thus prove useful in many small-scale testing scenarios.
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    Beliefs about the controllability of social characteristics and children's jealous responses to outsiders' interference in friendship
    (PLOS, 2019) Lavallee, Kristen L.; Parker, Jeffrey G.; Ruhr University Bochum; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Although some jealous children respond to outsider interference in friendships with problem solving and discussion, others withdraw from the relationship or retaliate against the friends or others. Beliefs about the nature of social characteristics are proposed as an explanation for behavioral heterogeneity in response to jealous provocation. Based on learned helplessness theory and research on children's implicit personality theories, children who subscribed strongly to the belief that social characteristics are fixed and that social outcomes are uncontrollable (high entity beliefs), were expected to more strongly endorse asocial and antisocial responses and less strongly endorse prosocial responses to outsider interference than children who did not have strong entity beliefs, depending on their internal versus external attributions of blame. Two hundred eighty-six children in sixth through eighth grades (primarily Caucasian) participated in an experimental test of this hypothesis. Although hypothesized interactions between beliefs and locus of blame were not supported, results indicated that children who believe social characteristics are changeable also believed they had more control in the internal condition than children who believe social characteristics are immutable. Further, pessimistic children were more likely to tend to endorse asocial and antisocial behavior and less likely to endorse prosocial behavior than optimistic children.
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    Acoustic Correlates and Adult Perceptions of Distress in Infant Speech-Like Vocalizations and Cries
    (Frontiers, 2019) Yoo, Hyunjoo; Buder, Eugene H.; Bowman, Dale D.; Bidelman, Gavin M.; Oller, D. Kimbrough; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; University of Memphis; University of Tennessee Health Science Center
    Prior research has not evaluated acoustic features contributing to perception of human infant vocal distress or lack thereof on a continuum. The present research evaluates perception of infant vocalizations along a continuum ranging from the most prototypical intensely distressful cry sounds ("wails") to the most prototypical of infant sounds that typically express no distress (non-distress "vocants"). Wails are deemed little if at all related to speech while vocants are taken to be clear precursors to speech. We selected prototypical exemplars of utterances representing the whole continuum from 0 and 1 month-olds. In this initial study of the continuum, our goals are to determine (1) listener agreement on level of vocal distress across the continuum, (2) acoustic parameters predicting ratings of distress, (3) the extent to which individual listeners maintain or change their acoustic criteria for distress judgments across the study, (4) the extent to which different listeners use similar or different acoustic criteria to make judgments, and (5) the role of short-term experience among the listeners in judgments of infant vocalization distress. Results indicated that (1) both inter-rater and intra-rater listener agreement on degree of vocal distress was high, (2) the best predictors of vocal distress were number of vibratory regimes within utterances, utterance duration, spectral ratio (spectral concentration) in vibratory regimes within utterances, and mean pitch, (3) individual listeners significantly modified their acoustic criteria for distress judgments across the 10 trial blocks, (4) different listeners, while showing overall similarities in ratings of the 42 stimuli, also showed significant differences in acoustic criteria used in assigning the ratings of vocal distress, and (5) listeners who were both experienced and inexperienced in infant vocalizations coding showed high agreement in rating level of distress, but differed in the extent to which they relied on the different acoustic cues in making the ratings. The study provides clearer characterization of vocal distress expression in infants based on acoustic parameters and a new perspective on active adult perception of infant vocalizations. The results also highlight the importance of vibratory regime segmentation and analysis in acoustically based research on infant vocalizations and their perception.
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    Protective Factors Buffer Life Stress and Behavioral Health Outcomes among High-Risk Youth
    (Springer, 2019) Sharma, Shubam; Mustanski, Brian; Dick, Danielle; Bolland, John; Kertes, Darlene A.; University of Florida; Northwestern University; Feinberg School of Medicine; Virginia Commonwealth University; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    This study investigated internalizing problems, externalizing problems, and polydrug use among African-American youth residing in high-poverty neighborhoods, and tested the potential protective effects of religiosity, parental monitoring, and neighborhood collective efficacy on life stress and behavioral health outcomes (N=576; 307 females; Mage=16years, SD=1.44years). A cumulative risk index reflected the combined effects of past year exposure to stressful life events, racial discrimination, and exposure to violence along with poor neighborhood ecology. Structural equation modeling revealed that cumulative risk significantly predicted internalizing problems, externalizing problems, and polydrug use. Interaction tests showed that the association of cumulative risk with internalizing problems was buffered by adolescent religiosity and neighborhood collective efficacy. The association of cumulative risk with externalizing problems was buffered by parental monitoring and collective efficacy. Adolescent sex further moderated these effects. The findings of the present study collectively highlight potential for protective factors to buffer effects of cumulative risk on behavioral health outcomes among youth residing in high-risk neighborhoods.
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    Genetic and Environmental Influences on Decoding Skills - Implications for Music and Reading
    (Frontiers, 2019) Centanni, Tracy M.; Anchan, D. M.; Beard, Maggie; Brooks, Renee; Thompson, Lee A.; Petrill, Stephen A.; Texas Christian University; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; Ohio State University; Case Western Reserve University
    Music education is associated with increased speech perception abilities and anecdotal evidence suggests musical training is also beneficial for performance in a variety of academic areas. In spite of this positive association, very little empirical evidence exists to support this claim except for a few studies linking musical training to improvements in verbal tasks. We evaluated the relationships between specific aspects of musical training/ability and scores on a series of standardized reading assessments in a sample of twins. There was a significant and positive relationship between self-reported sight-reading ability for sheet music and performance on passage comprehension - a standardized reading measure that relies on decoding and working memory. This effect was specific to sight reading ability, as other musical variables, such as number of years of practice or music theory, were not related to performance on this reading measure. Surprisingly, the verbal working memory ability we tested did not mediate this relationship. To determine whether there is a genetic component to these skills, we compared these relationships in pairs of monozygotic twins compared to dizygotic twins. Interestingly, intraclass correlations (ICCs) for sight reading and passage comprehension were both higher in monozygotic twins compared to dizygotic twins, though this effect was larger for passage comprehension than for sight reading. These results together suggest a familial and potentially partially shared inherited mechanism for success in both musical sight-reading ability and passage comprehension.
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    Editorial: Towards an Understanding of the Relationship Between Spatial Processing Ability and Numerical and Mathematical Cognition
    (Frontiers, 2020) Soylu, Firat; Newman, Sharlene D.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
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    Fixation Differences in Spatial Visual Perception During Multi-sensory Stimulation
    (Frontiers, 2020) Kim, Jihoon; Kim, Ju Yeon; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; Soongsil University
    The mood and atmosphere of a service setting are essential factors in the way customers evaluate their shopping experience in a retail store environment. Scholars have shown that background music has a strong effect on consumer behavior. Retailers design novel environments in which appropriate music can elevate the shopping experience. While previous findings highlight the effects of background music on consumer behavior, the extent to which recognition of store atmosphere varies with genre of background music in sales spaces is unknown. We conducted an eye tracking experiment to evaluate the effect of background music on the perceived atmosphere of a service setting. We used a 2 (music genre: jazz song with slow tempo vs. dance song with fast tempo) x 1 (visual stimuli: image of coffee shop) within-subject design to test the effect of music genre on visual perception of a physical environment. Results show that the fixation values during the slow tempo music were at least two times higher than the fixation values during the fast tempo music and that the blink values during the fast tempo music were at least two times higher than the blink values during the slow tempo music. Notably, initial and maximum concentration differed by music type. Our findings also indicate that differences in scan paths and locations between the slow tempo music and the fast tempo music changed over time. However, average fixation values were not significantly different between the two music types.
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    The Gold Standard and the Pyrite Principle: Toward a Supplemental Frame of Reference
    (Frontiers, 2020) Brodsky, Stanley L.; Lichtenstein, Bronwen; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    In medicine and social sciences, the phrase "gold standard" is often used to characterize an object or procedure described as unequivocally the best in its genre, against which all others should be compared. Examples of this usage are readily available in rigorously peer-reviewed publications, touted by test publishers, and appear in descriptions of methodologies by social science researchers. The phrase does not accurately describe commonly accepted measures, tests, and instruments. Instead, the descriptor can be ambiguous and misleading. This paper presents an overview of the history of the gold standard and its current applications to medicine and the social sciences. We question the use of the phrase "the gold standard" and suggest the additional operational use of a "pyrite principle" as a less presumptuous frame of reference. In thinking about validity and standards, the pyrite principle permits an understanding of standards as authoritative rather than fixed constructs in behavioral and health sciences.
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    Validity study using factor analyses on the Defining Issues Test-2 in undergraduate populations
    (PLOS, 2020) Choi, Youn-Jeng; Han, Hyemin; Bankhead, Meghan; Thoma, Stephen J.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; Kennesaw State University
    Introduction The Defining Issues Test (DIT) aimed to measure one's moral judgment development in terms of moral reasoning. The Neo-Kohlbergian approach, which is an elaboration of Kohlbergian theory, focuses on the continuous development of postconventional moral reasoning, which constitutes the theoretical basis of the DIT. However, very few studies have directly tested the internal structure of the DIT, which would indicate its construct validity. Objectives Using the DIT-2, a later revision of the DIT, we examined whether a bi-factor model or 3-factor CFA model showed a better model fit. The Neo-Kohlbergian theory of moral judgment development, which constitutes the theoretical basis for the DIT-2, proposes that moral judgment development occurs continuously and that it can be better explained with a soft-stage model. Given these assertions, we assumed that the bi-factor model, which considers the Schema-General Moral Judgment (SGMJ), might be more consistent with Neo-Kohlbergian theory. Methods We analyzed a large dataset collected from undergraduate students. We performed confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) via weighted least squares. A 3-factor CFA based on the DIT-2 manual and a bi-factor model were compared for model fit. The three factors in the 3-factor CFA were labeled as moral development schemas in Neo-Kohlbergian theory (i.e., personal interests, maintaining norms, and postconventional schemas). The bi-factor model included the SGMJ in addition to the three factors. Results In general, the bi-factor model showed a better model fit compared with the 3-factor CFA model although both models reported acceptable model fit indices. Conclusion We found that the DIT-2 scale is a valid measure of the internal structure of moral reasoning development using both CFA and bi-factor models. In addition, we conclude that the soft-stage model, posited by the Neo-Kohlbergian approach to moral judgment development, can be better supported with the bi-factor model that was tested in the present study.