Write an essay to discuss Kohlberg's stages of moral development

Essay by nwonknuHigh School, 12th grade December 2003

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Working as a developmental psychologist then turning his interest to the field of moral

education, Lawrence Kohlberg became to be well known for his theory of moral development. His theory spurred the interest of the psychological community on moral development (Nucci, 2002). His ideas were influenced by Jean Piaget, John Dewey, and James Mark Baldwin. He argued that experiences shape children's understandings of moral concepts such as justice, rights, equality, and human welfare. Kohlberg developed his theory from the research that he conducted at Harvard's Center for Moral Education (Barger, 2000). To evaluate the moral stages, Kohlberg made a series of moral dilemmas that pit one moral value against another (Kalat, 2002). He observed the explanations, not the choices, that the subject made. The explanations were used to match the subject to one of Kohlberg's stages. Kohlberg's theory of levels and stages of moral reasoning is supported by findings from longitudinal and cross-cultural research.

Kohlberg divided moral development into six distinguished stages which can be identified into three major


The first level is the level of pre-conventional morality. The first stage is defined by

punishment and obedience. This stage is characterized by the elementary school level (Barger, 2000). People follow the rules of authority because they are afraid of punishment, which is related to Piaget's identification of the stage of ego-centrism (Nucci, 2002). In this stage, people consider something to be bad if it is related with punishment. In contrast, if something brings rewards, it is considered as good. People also consider something to be good if it is in their immediate self- interest (Kalat, 2002). As a small child in elementary school, I learned that doing homework is a good thing only because when I finished my homework before playing, my mom gave me a piece...