Developing Youth Character

Project Overview

The research project is trying to answer the question of whether virtue really is a habit. Connections between what people do and who they think they are have been documented in the literature for some time, however it is only recently that a study found that habits that directly relate to people's personal values tend to have stronger relationships with self-identity when compared against habits that do not. While this is promising for the field of character education, there is no research yet investigating the causal relationship between habit and self-identity. Finding evidence for the direction of this causal relationship would help both theoretical advancements in the field, as well as help practitioners with creating better developmental programmes. This research project will investigate this relationship between moral integrity and related sport-contextual behaviours focusing on abiding by the rules and spirit of the game. By the end of the project, it is intended to have a questionnaire for measuring moral integrity fit for adolescent populations, and a moral integrity development character education programme. The findings of the project would be beneficial to the field of character education by helping practitioners design long-term behavioural change programmes in the future.

Statement of Significance

The practice of long-term behavioural change methodology functions around turning the wanted behaviour into a habit, an action that happens frequently and automatically. However, this project would create an opportunity to investigate the relationship between habit formation and self-identity longitudinally. The results of this project would show whether an educational aspect of helping align the wanted behaviour with the participant’s self-identity would be helpful towards successfully maintaining the new behaviour long-term. If the taught behaviours were internalised as part of the participating individual’s identity, they would possibly be strengthened by the intrinsic reward of behaving in accordance with who the individuals think they are.


In order for the project to be successful a series of outputs are first needed:

  1. The research project will develop a questionnaire measuring moral integrity for use in adolescent populations.

  2. The project will create a sport-based adolescent character education developmental programme to develop moral integrity.


If the research project is successful, it will provide evidence for which way the causality of the habit-identity relationship goes. There will be more knowledge of whether repeated behaviour aligns self-identity with the habit, whether already existing self-identity influences how well the habit is picked up, or whether the relationship is bidirectional, with habit aligning self-identity with itself, and the aligned self-identity then further strengthening the habit. This knowledge will be valuable to practitioners creating character development programmes.

Proposed Start Date: 10/19

Proposed Completion Date: */*