James Rest was an American psychologist specializing in moral psychology and development. Together with his Minnesota Group of colleagues, including Darcia Narvaez, Muriel Bebeau, and Stephen Thoma, Rest extended Kohlberg's approach to researching moral reasoning.
James Rest was a professor at the University of Minnesota from 1970 until his formal retirement in 1994 and was a 1993 recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award at the University. Rest continued mentoring, researching, and writing until his death in 1999.
Rest's and the Neo-Kohlbergians' work included the Defining Issues Test (DIT), which attempts to provide an objective measure of moral development, and the Four Component Model of moral development, which attempts to provide a theoretical perspective on the subject. Rest and the Minnesota Group were unusually open to other approaches, new research, criticisms, and integrating their Neo-Kohlbergian approach with others.
There have been extensive criticisms of Rest's work in general and the DIT in particular. Testing by independent sources has tended to uphold the strength and validity of the test.
Four stages component model
Rest maintained that four key psychological components must be developed for a person to be morally mature and correct. These were moral sensitivity, moral judgment, moral motivation, and moral character. These would allow the person to be able to recognize the issues at hand, make correct and intelligent judgements, have the motivation to take action and the character to maintain good morality throughout the person's life.
Rest died in 1999, his work continued at the Center for the Study of Ethical Development by his peers and colleagues.
- Rest, J.R., Narvaez, D., Bebeau, M. & Thoma, S. (1999). Postconventional Moral Thinking: A Neo-Kohlbergian Approach. Mahweh, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
- Her, Lucy Y. (20 July 1999). "Obituaries: James R. Rest, 58, professor". Minneapolis Star Tribune.
- Pascarella & Terenzini, E.T. & P. (1991). How college affects students: Findings and insights from twenty years of research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- King, P.M.; Mayhew, M.J. (2002). "Moral Judgment Development in Higher Education: Insights from the Defining Issues Test". Journal of Moral Education 31 (3): 247–270. doi:10.1080/0305724022000008106.
- McClosky, H.; Brill, A. (1983). "Moral Judgment and antisocial behavior in early adolescence". Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 4: 189–199. doi:10.1016/0193-3973(83)90006-0.
- "The Center for the Study of Ethical Development". Office of the Center for the Study of Ethical Development. Retrieved 5 April 2012.