Kohlbergs Stages Of Moral Development.

Kohlbergs Stages Of Moral Development.

 Kohlbergs Stages Of Moral Development



In personality development morality plays a vital role. But do we know how to develop morality? This question has fascinated many parents, philosophers and even it had become hot button issue in both psychology and education.


To understand that I am gonna explain today  kohlberg Stages Of Moral Development .


The Theory of moral development is very interesting subject that stemmed(originated) from jean piagets theory of moral reasoning. As well it is the one of the best-known theories exploring some of these basic questions was developed by psychologists named Lawrence Kohlberg.


Kohlbergs Stages Of Moral Development


Piaget described a two-stage process of moral development while Kohlberg’s theory of moral development outlined six stages within three different levels. Kohlberg extended Piaget’s theory, proposing that moral development is a continual process that occurs throughout the lifespan.


Each level of morality contains two stages, which provide the basis for moral development in various contexts.



Level 1: Preconventional


The pre-conventional level  is the kohlbergs Stages of moral development. It is level Of Moral reasoning is especially common in children, although adults can also exhibit this level of reasoning. Reasoners at this level judge the morality of an action by its direct consequences. The level consists of the first and second stages of moral development and is solely concerned with the self in an egocentric manner.


A child with pre-conventional morality has not yet adopted or internalised society’s conventions regarding what is right or wrong but instead focuses largely on external consequences that certain actions may bring.


Kohlbergs Stages Of Moral Development

A child’s sense of morality is externally controlled throughout the pre-conventional level. Children accept and believe the rules of authority figures, such as parents and teachers.


A child with pre-conventional morality has not yet adopted or internalised society’s conventions regarding what is right or wrong, but instead focuses largely on external consequences that certain actions may bring.



Stage 1: Obedience-and-Punishment Orientation


The earliest stage of moral development, obedience and punishment, is especially common in young children, but adults are also capable of expressing this type of reasoning. At this stage, Kohlberg says, children see rules as fixed and absolute. Obeying the rules is important because it is a means to avoid punishment.


Stage 1 focuses on the child’s desire to obey rules and avoid being punished. In this stage, individuals focus on the direct consequences of their actions on themselves.


Kohlbergs Stages Of Moral Development

An example of obedience and punishment driven morality would be a child refusing to do something because it is wrong and that the consequences could result in punishment.


For example, a child’s classmate tries to dare the child to skip school. The child would apply obedience and punishment driven morality by refusing to skip school because he would get punished.



Stage 2: Instrumental Orientation


Stage 2 expresses the “what’s in it for me?” position, in which right behaviour is defined by whatever the individual believes to be in their best interest. The stage reasoning shows a limited interest in the needs of others, only to the point where it might further the individual’s own interests. As a result, concern for others is not based on loyalty or intrinsic respect, but rather a “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” mentality.



Kohlbergs Stages Of Moral Development

An example would be when a child is asked by his parents to do a chore. The child asks “what’s in it for me?” and the parents offer the child an incentive by giving him an allowance.

The lack of a societal perspective in the pre-conventional level is quite different from the social contract (stage five), as all actions at this stage have the purpose of serving the individual’s own needs or interests



An example of self-interest driven is when a child is asked by his parents to do a chore. The child asks, “what’s in it for me?” The parents offer the child an incentive by giving a child an allowance to pay them for their chores. The child is motivated by self-interest to do chores.


At the individualism and exchange stage of moral development, children account for individual points of view and judge actions based on how they serve individual needs. In the Heinz dilemma, children argued that the best course of action was the choice that best-served Heinz’s needs. Reciprocity is possible at this point in moral development, but only if it serves one’s own interests.



Level 2: Conventional



Throughout the conventional level, a child’s sense of morality is tied to personal and societal relationships. Children continue to accept the rules of authority figures, but this is now due to their belief that this is necessary to ensure positive relationships and societal order. Adherence to rules and conventions is somewhat rigid during these stages, and a rule’s appropriateness or fairness is seldom questioned.

Kohlbergs Stages Of Moral Development


Often referred to as the “good boy-good girl” orientation, is the interpersonal relationships stage of moral development is focused on living up to social expectations and roles. There is an emphasis on conformity, being “nice,” and consideration of how choices influence relationships.


The next stage is focused on maintaining social order. At this stage of moral development, people begin to consider society as a whole when making judgments. The focus is on maintaining law and order by following the rules, doing one’s duty and respecting authority.


The conventional level of moral reasoning is typical of adolescents and adults. To reason in a conventional way is to judge the morality of actions by comparing them to society’s views and expectations. The conventional level consists of the third and fourth stages of moral development.


Kohlbergs Stages Of Moral Development

Conventional morality is characterized by an acceptance of society’s conventions concerning right and wrong. At this level an individual obeys rules and follows society’s norms even when there are no consequences for obedience or disobedience.

Adherence to rules and conventions is somewhat rigid, however, and a rule’s appropriateness or fairness is seldom questioned.



Stage 3: Good Boy, Nice Girl Orientation


In stage 3, children want the approval of others and act in ways to avoid disapproval. Emphasis is placed on good behaviour and people being “nice” to others.


In This stage, the self enters society by conforming to social standards. Individuals are receptive to approval or disapproval from others as it reflects society’s views. They try to be a “good boy” or “good girl” to live up to these expectations, having learned that being regarded as good benefits the self.



Kohlbergs Stages Of Moral DevelopmentStage three reasoning may judge the morality of an action by evaluating its consequences in terms of a person’s relationships, which now begin to include things like respect, gratitude, and the “golden rule”. “I want to be liked and thought well of; apparently, not being naughty makes people like me.”



Conforming to the rules for one’s social role is not yet fully understood. The intentions of actors play a more significant role in reasoning at this stage; one may feel more forgiving if one thinks that “they mean well”.


Right is conformity to the stereotypical behavioral, values expectations of one’s society or peers. Individual acts to gain approval of others. Good behavior is that which pleases or helps others within the group. Everybody is doing it.



” Majority understanding (“common sense”) is seen as “natural.” One earns approval by being conventionally “respectable” and “nice.” Peer pressure makes being different the unforgivable sin. Self sacrifice to group demands is expected.


Values based in conformity, loyalty to group. Sin is a breach of the expectations of one’s immediate social order (confuses sin with group, class norms).


Retribution, however, at this stage is collective. Individual vengeance is not allowed. Forgiveness is preferable to revenge. Punishment is mainly for deterrence. Failure to punish is “unfair.” “If he can get away with it, why can’t I?” Many religious people end up here.


Stage 4: Law-and-Order Orientation


In stage 4, the child blindly accepts rules and convention because of their importance in maintaining a functioning society. Rules are seen as being the same for everyone, and obeying rules by doing what one is “supposed” to do is seen as valuable and important.


Moral reasoning in stage four is beyond the need for individual approval exhibited in stage three. If one person violates a law, perhaps everyone would—thus there is an obligation and a duty to uphold laws and rules.


Most active members of society remain at stage four, where morality is still predominantly dictated by an outside force.


It is important to obey laws, dictums, and social conventions because of their importance in maintaining a functioning society. A central ideal or ideals often prescribe what is right and wrong. When someone does violate a law, it is morally wrong; culpabilityis thus a significant factor in this stage as it separates the bad domains from the good ones.



Kohlbergs Stages Of Moral Development Respect for fixed rules, laws and properly constituted authority. Defense of the given social and institutional order for its own sake. Responsibility toward the welfare of others in the society.


“Justice” normally refers to criminal justice. Justice demands that the wrongdoer be punished, that he “pay his debt to society,” and that law abiders be rewarded. “A good day’s pay for a good day’s work.” Injustice is failing to reward work or punish demerit. Right behavior consists of maintaining the social order for its own sake. Self-sacrifice to larger social order is expected.




Level 3: Post-conventional


Kohlberg’s final level of moral reasoning is based on universal ethical principles and abstract reasoning.

At this stage, people follow these internalized principles of justice, even if they conflict with laws and rules.


Kohlbergs Stages Of Moral Development

The ideas of a social contract and individual rights cause people in the next stage to begin to account for the differing values, opinions, and beliefs of other people. Rules of law are important for maintaining a society, but members of the society should agree upon these standards.



Throughout the post-conventional level, a person’s sense of morality is defined in terms of more abstract principles and values. People now believe that some laws are unjust and should be changed or eliminated. This level is marked by a growing realization that individuals are separate entities from society and that individuals may disobey rules inconsistent with their own principles.


Post-conventional moralists live by their own ethical principles—principles that typically include such basic human rights as life, liberty, and justice.


People who exhibit post-conventional morality view rules as useful but changeable mechanisms—ideally rules can maintain the general social order and protect human rights.


Rules are not absolute dictates that must be obeyed without question. Because post-conventional individuals elevate their own moral evaluation of a situation over social conventions, their behavior, especially at stage six, can be confused with that of those at the pre-conventional level.



Stage 5: Social-Contract Orientation


In stage 5, the world is viewed as holding different opinions, rights, and values. Such perspectives should be mutually respected as unique to each person or community. Laws are regarded as social contracts rather than rigid edicts.


Those that do not promote the general welfare should be changed when necessary to meet the greatest good for the greatest number of people. This is achieved through majority decision and inevitable compromise. Democratic government is theoretically based on stage five reasoning.


Kohlbergs Stages Of Moral Development
Moral action in a specific situation is not defined by reference to a checklist of rules, but from logical application of universal, abstract, moral principles. Individuals have natural or inalienable rights and liberties that are prior to society and must be protected by society.

Retributive justice is repudiated as counterproductive, violative of notions of human rights. Justice distributed proportionate to circumstances and need.


“Situation ethics.” The statement, “Justice demands punishment,” which is a self-evident truism to the Stage 4 mind, is just as self-evidently nonsense at Stage 5. Retributive punishment is neither rational nor just, because it does not promote the rights and welfare of the individual and inflicts further violence upon society.


Kohlbergs Stages Of Moral Development

Individual acts out of mutual obligation and a sense of public good.

Right action tends to be defined in terms of general individual rights, and in terms of standards that have been critically examined and agreed upon by the whole society–e.g. the Constitution.


When an individual infringes upon someone else’s freedom only then its freedom of individuality should be limited by society. Conventional authorities are increasingly rejected in favor of critical reasoning. Laws are challenged by questions of justice.


Stage 6: Universal-Ethical-Principal Orientation

Moral reasoning is based on abstract reasoning using universal ethical principles in stage 6. Generally, the chosen principles are abstract rather than concrete and focus on ideas such as equality, dignity, or respect. Laws are valid only insofar as they are grounded in justice, and a commitment to justice carries with it an obligation to disobey unjust laws.


People choose the ethical principles they want to follow, and if they violate those principles, they feel guilty. In this way, the individual acts because it is morally right to do so (and not because he or she wants to avoid punishment), it is in their best interest, it is expected, it is legal, or it is previously agreed upon.


Although Kohlberg insisted that stage six exists, he found it difficult to identify individuals who consistently operated at that level.


An individual who reaches this stage acts out of universal principles based upon the equality and worth of all living beings. Persons are never means to an end, but are ends in themselves. Having rights means more than individual liberties. It means that every individual is due consideration of his dignity interests in every situation, those interests being of equal importance with one’s own.



This is the “Golden Rule” model. A list of rules inscribed in stone is no longer necessary. At this level, God is understood to say what is right because it is right; His sayings are not right, just because it is God who said them. Abstract principles are the basis for moral decision making, not concrete rules.




I hope I am clear with my topic about Moral Development. In today’s time personality, confidence, morality are basic needs for the growth of being. You can contact me with your issues and suggestions regarding the topic. As well you can visit my website for more topics.


Throughout the pre-conventional level,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *