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PSY 302
Alba Agostino

1 Class Notes – Child Development Chapter 14 - Moral Development - How Children Develop (3rd ed.) Troubling Questions • The Columbine tragedy and incidents like it raise questions about why some adolescents become involved in antisocial and illegal behavior. • The starting point for finding answers is in understanding aspects of children’s thinking and behavior that contribute to morality. I. Moral Judgment Core Concepts: 1. The reasoning behind a behavior is critical for determining whether a given behavior is moral or immoral. 2. Changes in moral reasoning form the basis of moral development. Contributors to Current Understanding • Jean Piaget • Lawrence Kohlberg Piaget’s Theory of Moral Judgment • In his book, The Moral Judgment of the Child, Piaget described how children’s moral reasoning changes from a rigid acceptance of the dictates and rules of authorities to an appreciation that moral rules are a product of social interaction and hence are modifiable. • Piaget’s method initially involved observing children’s games (playing marbles). • He also conducted open-ended interviews with children in which they were presented with stories involving children’s behavior and asked to make judgments as to which child was naughtier. Piaget’s Theory of Moral Judgment 1. Morality of Constraint 2. The Transitional Period 3. Autonomous Morality 2 1. Morality of Constraint • Characterizes the moral reasoning of children who have not yet reached the cognitive stage of concrete operations. • See rules and duties as unchangeable “givens” established by an adult • Believe that what determines whether an action is good or bad is the consequence of the action, not the motive behind it 2. The Transitional Period • From about age 7 or 8 to age 10 • Because of increased peer interaction, children learn that rules can be constructed by the group and increasingly learn to take one another’s perspective, thereby becoming more autonomous in their thinking about moral issues. 3. Autonomous Morality • By about age 11 or 12, moral relativism emerges, with all normal children reaching this stage. • Understand that rules can be changed if a group agrees to do so • Consider fairness and equality among people as important factors in constructing rules • Consider individuals’ motives when evaluating their crimes Evaluation of Piaget’s Theory • Although Piaget’s general view of moral development has been supported by empirical research, some aspects have not held up well to scrutiny. • For example, young children can sometimes consider intentions and disregard adults’ views when judging the morality of some actions, such as hurting others. B. Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Judgment • Strongly influenced by Piaget • Assessed moral judgment by presenting children with hypothetical moral dilemmas and then questioning them about the issues involved in their moral judgments Heinz dilemma 3 • A woman was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to produce. He paid $200 for the radium and charged $2,000 for a small dose of the drug. The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could only get together about $1,000 which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said: "No, I discovered the drug and I'm going to make money from it." So Heinz got desperate and broke into the man's store to steal the drug for his wife. Kohlberg’s Stages Proposed three levels of moral judgment: 1. Preconventional: Moral reasoning is self-centered, focusing on getting rewards and avoiding punishment 2. Conventional: Moral reasoning is centered on social relationships 3. Postconventional: Moral reasoning is involved with ideals, focusing on moral principles Each level involves two stages of moral judgment • Preconventional Level: Stage 1 Punishment and Obedience Orientation: What is seen as right is obedience to authorities. Children’s “conscience” (what makes them decide what is right or wrong) is fear of punishment, and their moral action is motivated by avoidance of punishment. The child does not consider the interests of others or recognize that they differ from his or her own interests. Pro: If you let your wife die, you will get in trouble. You’ll be blamed for not spending the money to save her and there’ll be an investigation of you and the druggist for your wife’s death. Con: You shouldn’t steal the drug because you’ll be caught and sent to jail if you do. If you do get away, your conscience would bother you, thinking how the police would catch up with you at any minute. Preconventional Level: Stage 2 Instrumental and Exchange Orientation: What is right is what is in one’s own best interest or involves equal exchange between people (tit-for-tat exchange of benefits). 4 Pro: If you do happen to get caught you could give the drug back and you wouldn’t get much of a sentence. It wouldn’t bother you much to serve a little jail term, if you have your wife when you get out. Con: He may not get much of a jail term if he steals the drug, but his wife will probably die before he gets out so it won’t do him much good. If his wife dies, he shouldn’t blame himself, it wasn’t his fault she has cancer. Conventional Level: Stage 3 Mutual Interpersonal Expectations, Relationships, and Interpersonal Conformity (“Good Girl, Nice Boy”) Orientation: Good behavior is doing what is expected by people who are close to the person or what people generally expect of someone in a given role (e.g., “a son”). Being “good” is important in itself and means having good motives, showing concern about others, and maintaining good relationships with others. Pro: No one will think you’re bad if you steal the drug, but your family will think you’re an inhuman husband if you don’t. If you let your wife die, you’ll never be able to look anybody in the face again. Con: It isn’t just the druggist who will think you’re a criminal, everyone else will too. After you steal it, you’ll feel bad thinking how you’ve brought dishonor on your family and yourself; you won’t be able to face anyone again. Conventional Level: Stage 4 Social System and Conscience (“Law and Order”) Orientation: Right behavior involves fulfilling one’s duties, upholding laws, and contributing to society or one’s group. The individual is motivated to keep the social system going and to avoid a breakdown in its functioning. Pro: In most marriages, you accept the responsibility to look after one another’s health and after their life and you have the responsibility when you live with someone to try and make it a happy life. Con: In the revised coding manual, Colby and Kohlberg (1987b) provide virtually no examples of Stage 4 reasoning supporting the decision that Heinz should not steal the drug for his wife. However, they provide reasons for not stealing the drug for a pet: Heinz should not steal for a pet because animals cannot contribute to society. Postconventional Level: Stage 5 Social Contract or Individual Rights Orientation: Right behavior involves upholding rules that are in the best interest of the group (“the greatest good for the greatest number”), are impartial, 5 or were agreed upon by the group. However, some values and rights, such as life and liberty, are universally right and must be upheld in any society, regardless of majority opinion. Pro: Heinz should steal the drug because the right to life supersedes or transcends the right to property. Con: It is difficult to construct a Stage 5 reason that justifies not stealing the drug. Postconventional Level: Stage 6 Universal Ethical Principles: Right behavior is commitment to self-chosen ethical principles that reflect universal principles of justice (e.g., equality of human rights, respect for the dignity of each human being). When laws violate these principles, the individual should act in accordance with these universal principles rather than the law. • Age trends in moral reasoning in Kohlberg’s longitudinal sample Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Judgment • Argued that people all over the world go though these stages in the same order, although they differ with regard to the final stage they attain • Also contended that levels of cognitive development, especially individuals’ skills in perspective taking, determined their progress through the stages Critique of Kohlberg’s Theory • Criticized as reflecting a biased, intellectualized Western conception of morality that is not applicable to non-Western cultures • The view that moral reasoning development is discontinuous has also been criticized. • The most hotly debated issue, however, involves sex differences. Critique of Kohlberg’s Theory • Carol Gilligan argued that Kohlberg’s classification of moral judgment is centered on principles of justice and rights which are valued more by males than by females, rather than on values of caring and responsibility for others, which are more central to females. • Contrary to Gilligan’s theory, however, there is little evidence that males and females score differently on Kohlberg’s stages of moral reasoning. 6 • Adolescent and adult females do focus somewhat more on issues of caring about other people in their moral judgments. C. Prosocial Moral Judgment • Voluntary behavior intended to benefit another, such as helping, sharing, and providing comfort • To study the development of prosocial moral development, Eisenberg presented children with stories in which the characters must choose between helping someone and meeting their own needs. • Identified five stages of prosocial moral reasoning similar to Kohlberg’s stages Story One day a boy named Eric was going to a friend’s birthday party. On the way he saw a boy who had fallen down and hurt his leg. The boy asked Eric to go to his house and get his parents so the parents could come and take him to a doctor. But if Eric did run and get the c
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