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Kohlberg's Moral Development

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Kohlberg’s Moral Development
Linda Jones
University of Phoenix

Moral development over an individual’s lifespan remains a major topic of interest for psychologists. There are many theories that have been developed over time but one of the most well-known was developed by Lawrence Kohlberg. Kohlberg expanded the work of Jean Piaget and modified it to explain moral reasoning and how it develops. While Piaget described a process of moral development that occurred in only two stages, Kohlberg’s theory grew to include six stages within three different levels. Kohlberg proposed three these six stages and three levels that moral reasoning was a process that continued through an individual’s life. Level 1 of Kohlberg’s Moral Development is Preconventional Morality. It contains two stages. The first stage is Obedience and Punishment. This marks the earliest formation of moral development and is typically seen in young children though adults are also able to express this reasoning. In the first stage the individual sees rules as unchanging and absolute. Obeying the rules becomes a top priority because it is the only way to not be punished (Brans & Blu, 1998). The second stage of Level 1 is called Individualism and Exchange. Children begin to account for their own points of view. They also begin to judge actions based on intent as well as how the action serves the individual (Graham, et al., 2011). Reciprocity begins to be an option but only if the individual’s needs are also being met. Kohlberg’s second level is Conventional Morality. It contains stages 3 and 4. Stage 3 is Interpersonal Relationships. Sometimes referred to as the “good boy-good girl” orientation, this stage focuses on the individual adjusting morals and living up to societal rules and expectations. In this stage there is an emphasis placed on being nice and polite, while the individual begins to…...

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