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Chapter Twelve.docx

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Psychology 2040A/B
Jackie Sullivan

Chapter Twelve: Moral Development Morality as Rooted in Human Nature - Morality is grounded in our genetic heritage, perhaps through prewired emotional reactions (observed animals that help others when in need – especially among chimps & those they have genetic connection to) - We share many morally relevant behaviours with other species & areas within the prefrontal cortex (ventromedial area) are vital for emotional responsiveness to others’ suffering – psychopaths have less stimulation here - However, mature expression of moral emotions requires strong caregiving supports & cognitive attainments but empathy begins around age 2 Morality as the Adoption of Societal Norms - 2 perspectives discussed earlier, psychoanalytic theory & social learning – offer accounts of how children become moral beings - Yet both regard moral development as a matter of internalization: adopting societal standards for right action as one’s own Psychoanalytic Theory & the Role of Guilt - According to Freud, morality emerges between 3-6, when Oedipus & Electra conflicts are resolved with formation of the superego & believed that moral development was mostly completed by 6 - The child adopts the moral standards of the same-sex parent & redirects hostile impulses toward the self in form of guilt o Today, many researchers disagree with Freud - Although guilt is an important motivator of moral action, contrary to Freud’s view, discipline promoting fear of punishment & loss of parental love does not foster conscience development but discipline like - Induction (in which an adult helps the child notice others’ feelings by pointing out the effects of the child’s misbehavior on others, especially noting their distress & making clear that the child caused it) is far more effective & also fosters a strong moral identity (endorsement of moral values, such as fairness, kindness & generosity, as central to their self-concept - Success of induction may lie in its power to motivate active commitment to moral norms, in the following ways: o Give children info on how to behave o Emphasizes the impact of child’s actions on others o Gives children a reason to change to adopt moral standards o Induction may form a script for negative emotional consequences o Children who view discipline are more likely to listen, accept & internalize the message - In contrast, disciplines that rely to heavily on threats of punishment or withdrawal of love makes children anxious or angry or frightened The Child’s Contribution - Children’s characteristics affect the success of parenting techniques o Empathy & temperament are heritable so some techniques are not as affective The Role of Guilt - Freud was right that guilt is an important motivator in moral action, but guilt is evident by the end of toddlerhood - Empathy-based guilt reactions are associated with stopping harmful actions, & repairing damage caused by misdeeds – induction guides children to make up for immoral behaviour rather than minimizing or excusing it - Contrary to Freud’s belief, moral development is not complete by the end of early childhood; rather, it proceeds gradually, extending into adulthood Social Learning Theory - This perspective does not regard morality as a special human activity with a unique course of development, rather, moral behaviour is acquired just like any other set of responses through reinforcement & modeling Importance of Modeling - Operant conditioning – reinforcement for good behaviour with other rewards – is not enough for children to acquire moral responses - Most theorists believe children learn moral through modeling but reinforcement increases moral act frequencies - Effective models are warm, responsive, competent, powerful & consistent in words & deeds - At end of early childhood, children who had consistent exposure to caring adults tend to behave prosocially whether or not a model is present (they have internalized prosocial rules by middle childhood) Effects of Punishment - Harsh punishment is ineffective as only promotes immediate compliance, not lasting behaviour change - Frequent harsh punishments result in weak moral internalization & wide-ranging adjustment problems, models aggressive behaviour & can spiral into serious abuse (the list goes on) - Although corporal punishment spans the SES spectrum, its frequency & harshness is elevated among less educated & disadvantaged parents & also more common in certain cultures o The American belief is that this punishment is harmful but that not true unless it is used to a limit o A lot American parents do engage in this type of punishment (even using objects) - Parent-child similarities suggest that heredity contributes to the link between punitive discipline & children’s adjustment difficulties (heredity is not a complete explanation) Alternatives to Harsh Punishment - Time out (removing children from immediate setting) & withdrawal of priviledges can help parents avoid these undesirable effects, as long as parents apply the techniques consistently, maintain a warm relationship with the child & offer explanations for punishment Positive Relationships, Positive Parenting - The most effective discipline relies on positive parenting, which encourages good conduct by building a mutually respectful bond with the child Limitations of “Mortality as the Adoption of Societal Norms” Perspective - The cognitive-developmental approach assumes that individuals, rather than internalizing existing rules & expectations, develop through construction o C: actively attending to & interrelating multiple perspectives on situations in which social conflicts arise & thereby attaining new moral understandings - They do not think that modeling & reinforcement are major means of moral development Morality as Social Understanding - According to the cognitive-developmental perspective, cognitive maturity & social experience lead to advances in moral understanding Piaget’s Theory of Moral Development - Using interviews, did a study on Swiss children about understanding rules on a game of marbles - From this he identified 2 broad stages of moral understanding Heteronomous Morality - About 5-8 years - Heteronomous means 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 & as requiring strict obedience o Ex. Said the game of marbles can’t be changed “God didn’t teach you the new rules” - 2 factors limit children’s understanding: o Cognitive immaturity, especially a limited capacity to imagine other perspectives & realism – the tendency to view mental phenomena, including rules, as fixed external features of reality o The power of adults to insist that children comply, which promotes unquestioning respect for rules & those who enforce them - Together, egocentrism, realism & adult power result in superficial moral understandings o Young children think rules are absolutes rather than principles Morality of Cooperation - About 9-10 years & older - Cognitive development, gradual release from adult control & peer interaction lead to children to transitions to the second stage, morality of cooperation, in which 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 - Gradually they start to use the standard of fairness called reciprocity, in which they express the same concern for the welfare of others as they do for themselves o Move from a more simple reciprocity (I’ll scratch you back if you scratch mine” to a grasp of the importance of mutuality of expectations, called ideal reciprocity – the ides expressed in the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” Evaluation of Piaget’s Theory Intentions & Moral Judgments - Piaget’s theory accurately describes the general direction of moral development but underestimates young children’s moral capacities - Preschool & early school-age children consider intentions when making moral judgments, although they interpret intentions rigidity Reasoning About Authority - By 4, children have differentiated notions about the legitimacy of authority figures - Certain things like a person stealing or cheating, children would not consider these people authority figures - With respects to non-moral concerns, children base legitimacy of authority based on knowledge, not social position - Adult status is not required for someone to be viewed as authority (Asian kids view authority figures as anyone who is older than them or just knowledgeable in general) Stagewise Progression - Many children display both heteronomous & cooperative moral reasoning, raising doubts about whether each Piagetian stage represents a general, unifying organization of moral judgment response - As of now, moral development is viewed as a more extended process than Piaget believed Kohlberg’s Extension of Piaget’s Theory - Kohlberg viewed moral development as a gradual process extending into adolescence & adulthood The Clinical Interview - Using clinical interviewing (Moral Judgment Interview), he constructed a sequence of moral reasoning based on responses to hypothetical dilemmas - Kohlberg emphasized that it is the way an individual reasons about the dilemma, not the content of the response (whether or not to steal) that determines moral judgment maturity A Questionnaire Approach - Also devised short-answer questionnaire (Sociomoral Reflection Measure-Short Form) – 11 questions that ask people to evaluate importance of moral values & to reason about them - Correlates well with the interview above & is less time-consuming Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Understanding - Organized 6 stages into 3 general levels (more complex than Piaget’s model) - Kohlberg drew on characteristic that Piaget used to describe his cognitive stage sequence o Moral stages as universal & invariant o Viewed each new stage as building on reasoning of the preceding stage o Saw each stage as an organized whole - Kohlberg also believed that moral understanding is promoted by the same factors Piaget thought were important:
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