PSY210 Ch.12 Morality 12/15/2012 3:41:00 PM
1. Rooted in human nature?
2. The adoption of social norms?
3. Social understanding
4. Moral reasoning of young children
5. Development of morally relevant self-control
6. Development of aggression
Emotional + cognitive + behavioral
Self-control, acting morally vs. aggressively
1. Morality as rooted in human nature
Biologically based provisions for moral acts = evolution
o Survival of the species = with pity, moral behaviour
o Frontal region of cerebral cortex (ventromedial area) =
emotional responsiveness + sympathy for others in pain
Ventromedial damage = disruption of social learning =
Psychopaths = reduced activity in their
o Ventromedial area = brain based moral substrate that
counteracts self-centered motives and promotes concern for
o Moral acts require nurturing too though (parenting, modeling,
teaching, cognitive development)
2. The adoption of social norms?
Psychoanalytic theory vs. social learning theory = how children
become moral beings
Both regard moral development as a matter of internalization:
adopting societal standards for right action as one’s own.
Morality from society individual : based on…
o Parental style of discipline (type of misdeed)
o Child’s characteristics (age + temperament)
o Parent’s characteristics o Child’s view of misdeed + reasonableness of parental
Psychoanalytic theory: Freud
o Morality 3-6 years during Oedipus/electra complex
Desire = possess opposite sex parent
Given up due to fear of punishment + loss of parental
Maintain parents affection via superego/conscience = by
identifying with the same sex parent
Moral standards of same sex parent whose are adopted
into their own personality
Previous hostility towards same sex parent is turned
towards themselves = internalized hostility = guilt each
time they disobey the superego. = Personal punishment
Self-blame is not associated with moral internalization
Guilt with intention of bad acts = responsibility for
Fear of punishment + loss of parental love = do not
motivate conscious formation or moral behaviour
Children whose parents act bad also tend to
violate moral standards and feel little guilt.
Parents who withdraw love = child responds with
self-blame and misbehavior, deny themselves
emotion = weak conscious.
o Power of inductive discipline:
Induction: an adult helps the child notice others feelings
by pointing out the effects of the child’s behaviour on
others, noting especially their distress and making clear
that the child caused it. = supports conscious
Warmth + understandable explanation by parents +
insisting that child should listen and comply = effective
“Why did you hit him? You hurt him! Wouldn’t
that hurt you?” Inductive reasoning = prosocial, sympathetic behaviour
Power to cultivate children’s active commitment
to moral norms
o Harms of over-discipline: threats, punishments, love
withdrawal = high levels of fear/anxiety = less cognitive
ability for reasoning in child = moral norms are not
internalized or thought of
o Child’s contribution:
Freud = parents 100% responsible, child as passive
Empathy inherited = more empathetic children need
less power assertion, respond better to induction
Temperament: impulsive kids need secure attachment
parenting style + firm correction of misbehavior with
Children low in anxiety = not enough discomfort with
induction to promote development of a strong
conscience. Close bond with parent = alternative
foundation and motivation for morality.
Goodness of fit parenting styles considering personality
o Role of guilt:
Freud was correct that guilt is an important motivator of
Empathy-based guilt can be induced without coercion
“im sorry I hurt him”
Dealing with guilt feelings constructively: guiding them
to make up for immoral behaviour rather than
Contrary to Freud: guilt is not the ONLY motivator of
moral acts, nor does it all happen during childhood.
o Recent psychoanalytic ideas:
Parental attachment of children = vital foundation for
acquiring moral standards
Importance of warmth + induction Low punitiveness = essential for promoting effortful
control = self-regulatory dimension of temperament
that contributes later to moral maturity.
Superego as a positive, constructive force that leads to
initiative (sense of ambition and purpose).
Praise as important as punishment
Emotion as the basis for moral development = Frued +
Social Learning Theory
o Views moral development as being acquired via reinforcement
and modeling (rather than a unique course of human
o Modeling: Operant conditioning, reinforcement via rewards or
But reinforcement doesn’t explain the rapid
development of prosocial acts in kids.
Answer: children learn how to behave via modeling
Modeling 1 then reinforcement.
Child’s willingness to imitate adults who display:
Warmth + responsiveness
Competence + power
Consistency between assertions and behaviour
o Effects of punishment:
Physical punishment = ineffective
Only effective when immediate obedience is necessary
e.g. 3 year old running into the street
Warmth + reasoning better in most cases
+ power assertion for serious misdeeds
Punishment = weak internalization of moral rules,
depression, aggression, antisocial behaviour, poor
academic results, criminality, abuse
Only temporary results from punishment = not
Inherited use of corporal punishment (use of physical
force to inflict pain but not injury) Punitive parents = more likely to have disobedient kids
= heredity contributes
Cultural differences = aggressive white parents (&
antisocial disobedient kids), mild physical discipline by
warm black parents (& their teens being more obedient,
o Alternatives to harsh punishment:
Time out: removing children from the immediate setting
until they are ready to act appropriately
Useful when child is out of control, offers a cooling
off period for angry parents too.
Withdrawal of privileges: allowance/TV
Punishment can be more effective via:
A warm parent-child relationship
o Positive relationships, positive discipline: a mutually
responsive pleasurable mother-child tie predicts a firmer
conscience, emphasis on positive emotions as a foundation
for moral development
o Criticisms of social learning theory/ “Morality as the adoption
of social norms” perspective:
Personal commitment to societal norms is essential for
moral development, yes.
BUT it must be internalized, with a shared moral code,
and cultivation of empathy via inductive discipline
o Critique: Morality is not entirely due to internalizing norms as
standards may be at odds with important ethical principles
and social goals.
In these conditions, deliberate violation of norms is not
immoral but justifiable and courageous.
Lincoln + slavery, Martin L.King + racial equality.
Cognitive-developmental approach argues that
individuals, instead of internalizing existing rules and
expectations, develop morally through construction –
actively attending to and interrelating multiple perspectives on situations in which social conflicts arise
and thereby deriving new moral understandings.
Views the child as active, and capable of acting
upon their own morality, by thinking morally and
searching for moral truth via reasoning.
3. Morality + Social understanding
Cognitive-developmental approach = cognitive maturity and social
experience = advances in moral understanding.
Piaget Theory of Moral Development
o What’s worse?
Breaking 15 cups unintentionally
Breaking 1 cup intentionally
Piaget’s 2 stages of moral understanding to explain this.
o 1. Heteronomous morality (5-10yrs):
Heteronomous = under the authority of another
Heteronomous morality = suggests, children in this first
stage view rules as handed down by authorities (God,
parents, teachers), as having a permanent existence, as
unchangeable, and as requiring strict obedience.
Moral understanding limitations:
A) the power of adults to insist that children
comply promoted unquestioning respect for
rules and those who enforce them.
B) cognitive immaturity, limited capacity of
child to imagine others perspectives. They
think that all people view rules in the same
way. Realism – they see rules as external
features of reality, rather than as
cooperative principles that can be modified
Adult power + egocentrism + realism = superficial
moral understanding. Focus on outcomes over intent.
More cups broken = worse, naughtier, despite innocent
intentions. o 2. Autonomous morality, or the morality of cooperation (10
Cognitive development + gradual release from adult
control + peer interaction = transition to second stage
of autonomous morality
Where they no longer view rules as fixed but see them
as flexible, socially agreed-on principles that can be
revised to suit the will of the majority.
Especially via peer disagreements, kids realize
that peoples perspectives on moral action can
differ and that intentions, not concrete
consequences, should serve as the basis for
Gradually learn a standard of fairness through
peer interaction called reciprocity equal concern
for welfare of others as oneself.
Mutuality of expectations, not tit-for-tat,
ideal reciprocity. Golden rule: do for
others as you would have them do unto
Evaluations of Piaget’s theory
o He underestimated the moral capacities of young children.
o Intentions and moral judgments: more evidence to show kids
can judge ill-intention as morally worse than worse
o Age 4 = children recognize dif between two morally relevant
intentional behaviours: truth + lying
o Children realize lying can be ok sometimes, and that
truthfulness can be bad in certain cases “I don’t like your
o Correct about other things (above).
Reasoning about authority: children aren’t as unquestioning about
adults as Piaget assumed. They questioned the reach of authority of
some adult figures e.g. principal cant rule another school that
isn’t their own. o Knowledge = authority figure to kids, not necessarily status
o Peers doing the right thing, telling others to do so too =
respected regardless of age.
o Adult status becomes is not required for preschool and school
age children to view someone as an authority.
o Some centration on superficial aspects: older kids, power,
status, impressive consequences for not obeying authority.
o They can attribute these factors much earlier than Piaget
Stage wise progression:
o Piaget regarded the 2 stages as partially overlapping
o Kohlberg = more extended process of moral development
that Piaget presented.
o Kohlberg = 6 stages.
Kohlberg’s extension of Piaget’s theory:
o Piaget: used clinical interview too, but asked kids to explain
which of two kids in a pair of stories was naughtier
o Kohlberg: more open-ended, presented kids with hypothetical
moral dilemmas and asked what the main actor should do and
Kohlberg: moral judgment interview
Individuals resolve dilemmas that present
conflicts between 2 moral values and justify their
Obeying the law vs. value of human life
Not stealing vs. saving a dying person
Moral maturity = the way an individual reasons about
the dilemma, not the content of the response (whether
or not to steal).
Highest stages: moral reasoning and content
come together. They agree on why certain actions
are justified + agree on what people out to do when faced in moral dilemma. Support individual
rights over obeying the law.
o Questionnaire approach: Sociomoral Reflection Measure-short
form (SRM-SF) used for more efficient gathering and storing
of moral reasoning.
Moral reasoning can be tested without using moral
o Kohlberg’s stages of moral understanding:
Invariant, universal moral stages
New stage builds on previous ones
Each stage seen as an organized whole.
o Similar ideas by Kohlberg as Piaget for how morality is
Gains in perspective taking
Kohlberg’s moral levels and stages
o Preconventional: morality is externally controlled. Children
accept the rules of authority figuresm and actions are judged
by their consequences. Behaviours that result in punishment
are viewed as bad, and those that lead to rewards as good.
1) punishment obedience orientation:
Child can’t take 2 perspectives.
Intentions are ignored, focus instead on fear of
authority and avoidance of punishment as reasons
to behave morally
Prostealing: if you let wife die you will be in
Antistealing: if you steal, you’ll go to jail.
2) Instrumental purpose orientation:
Child becomes aware of various perspectives, but
understanding is very concrete. Right action flows
from self-interest. Reciprocity is tit-for-tat.
Prostealing: its up to each person to decide
what they want to do Antistealing: Heinz is running more risk
than its worth to save his wife who is near
o Conventional: individuals continue to regard conformity to
social rules as important, but not for reasons of self-interest.
Rather, they believe that actively maintaining the current
social system ensures positive human relationships and
3) The good boy/good girl orientation (morality of
desire to obey rules to promote social harmony in
close personal ties.
Stage 3’s wish to maintain the affection and
approval of friends and relatives by being a “good
Child understands the golden rule of ideal
Prostealing: Your family will think your
inhuman if you don’t steal the drug, you
wont be able to face anyone again if you let
Antistealing: The druggist + your family will
think you’re a criminal, you will dishonor
your family and yourself.
4) Social-order-maintaining orientation:
Larger perspective is taken beyond the family =
Moral choices no longer depend on close ties to
Rules must be equal for everyone, upheld by all.
Laws can not be disobeyed, EVER as they are vital
for social order.
Prostealing: He should steal as he has a
duty to protect his wifes life, but he would
have to accept he is breaking the law by
paying the penalty. Antistealing: He ofcourse wants to save his
wife, but its his duty as a citizen to obey the
law. If everyone started breaking the law,
social chaos would be the result.
o Postconventional/Principled level: individuals move beyond
unquestioning support for the rules and laws of their own
society. They define morality in terms of abstract principles
and values that apply to all situations and societies.
5) Social-contract orientation:
laws/rules seen as flexible instruments for
furthering human purposes.
Alternatives are imagined to their own social
Laws which could be more consistent with
individual rights, and interests of the majority.
People follow them because of social-contract
orientation – free and willing participation in the
system for its instrumental value.
Prostealing: law against stealing wasn’t
meant to violate a persons right to life. He
is justified in stealing in this instance. He
shouldn’t be prosecuted, if he is the law
needs to be reinterpreted, to account for
the right to life.
6) The universal ethical principle orientation:
Right action is defined by self-chosen ethical
principles of conscience that apply to everyone,
regardless of law/social agreement.
Abstract values – not concrete moral rules
E.g. equal consideration of the claims of all
human beings and respect for the worth and
dignity of each person.