Research examining the characterization of moral excellence has been conducted almost exclusively at the variable level of analysis. Such an approach precludes a consideration of personality composition and, as a result, does not provide a complete understanding of moral exemplarity. In the current project, a person-level analysis was adopted to assess the viability of a personality configuration distinctive of care-based moral excellence across adulthood. In Study 1, a cluster analysis revealed that young-adult moral exemplars and demographically matched comparison participants were strongly distinguished on the basis of personality composition. This segregation was largely a result of a heightened level of motivational variables and advanced socio-cognitive development on the part of exemplars. In Study 2, which considered moral excellence in mid- and late-adulthood, these results were replicated. These findings indicate that patterns of care-based moral action are more likely to be evidenced if motivation and socio-cognitive maturity are fostered in tandem.
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