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Konstantine Zakzanis

Chapter 14: Morality, Altruism, and Aggression An Overview of Moral Development  Although the specific values and behaviours regarded as desirable vary among cultures, every society has a system of rules about the rightness and wrongness of certain behaviours o Adults expect children to learn these rules, and to experience satisfaction when conforming to them and emotional discomfort or guilt when violating them  Psychological research has focused on the development of 3 basic components of morality: cognitive, behavioural, and emotional o The cognitive component involves knowledge of ethical rules and judgements of the “goodness” or “badness” of various acts o The behavioural component refers to people’s actual behaviour in situations that invoke ethical considerations o The emotional component focuses on people’s feelings about situations and behaviours that involve moral and ethical decisions  Empathy: the capacity to experience the same emotion that someone else is experiencing Cognitive Theories of Moral Development Piaget’s Cognitive Theory of Moral Development  Piaget proposed a cognitive-developmental theory of moral development in which the child’s moral concepts evolve in an unvarying sequence through 3 stages 1. Premoral stage lasts until about the age of 5 2. Stage of moral realism lasts from roughly 6-10 years old 3. Autonomous morality lasts from about age 11 onwards  According to Piaget, mature morality includes both an understanding and acceptance of social rules and a concern for equality and reciprocity in human relationships- these qualities form the basis of justice  Piaget investigated children’s developing moral judgement in 2 main ways: by studying how children change their attitudes toward rules in common games, and by examining the way they change their judgements of the seriousness of transgressions over time Learning the Rules of Moral Behaviour  Preschool children are in the premoral stage - they show little concern for, or awareness of, rules o E.g. in a game like marbles, they don’t try to play systematically w/ the intention of winning but seem rather to gain satisfaction from manipulating the marbles and finding out how they can be used in different ways  By the time they are 5 years old, children move into the stage of moral realism- they develop great concern and respect for rules that come from authority, usually their parents, and see rules as immutable (unchanging and not to be questioned) o In this stage, what Piaget calls moral absolutism prevails- if we ask children of this age if children in other countries could play marbles w/ different rules, they will assure us that they couldn’t. o Young children subscribe to the notion of immanent justice: the notion that any deviation from rules will inevitably result in punishment or retribution - Such retribution might take the form of accidents or mishaps controlled by inanimate objects or by a higher power (e.g. A child who has lied to her mom may later fall off her bike, and skin her knew, and think “that’s what I get for lying to mom”) - The 2 factors that contribute to young children’s moral realism are: (1) egocentrism- their inability to subordinate their own experiences and to perceive situations as others may and (2) immature way of thinking- leads them to confuse external validity w/ their own thought process and subjective experiences o In the stage of morality of reciprocity, children’s moral judgements are now characterized by the recognition that social rules are arbitrary agreements that can be questioned and changed. - They realize that obedience to authority is neither necessary nor always desirable and that violations of rules aren’t always wrong or inevitably punished - Children believe that if behaviour is to be punished, the punishment should be related to both the wrongdoer’s intentions and the nature of the transgressions - Children also believe in “equalitarianism”- the believe there should be equal justice for all Evaluation of Piaget’s Theory  In industrialized Western countries like Canada and the U.S, across a wide range of populations and social classes, and among both genders, investigators find regular age trends in the development of moral judgment from moral realism to moral reciprocity  Although research on moral development lends support to the general developmental sequence, it suggests that Piaget underestimated that cognitive capacities of young children  Piaget always mixed action outcome w/ actor intention thus, he invariably required children to judge whether a child who causes a small amount of damage in the service of bad intentions is “worse” than a child who causes a large amount of damage but has good intentions  Just as in real life, many issues influence children’s judgements about rightness and wrongness, about whether or not the consequences of actions are positive or negative and whether the consequences are intended or accidental Kohlberg’s Cognitive Theory of Moral Development Level I: Pre-conventional Morality Stage 1: Obedience and Punishment Orientation To avoid punishment, the child refers to prestigious or powerful people, usually the parents. The morality of an act is defined by its physical consequences The child conforms to gain rewards. The child understands reciprocity and Stage 2: Naïve hedonistic and instrumental sharing, but this reciprocity is manipulative and self-serving rather than based on orientation a true sense of justice, generosity, sympathy, or compassion. It’s a kind of battering: “I’ll lend you my bike if I can play w/ your wagon” Level II : Conventional Morality- Conventional Rules and Conformity Stage 3: Good-boy morality The child’s good behaviour is designed to maintain approval and good relations w/ others. Although the child is still basing judgements of right and wrong on others’ responses, he is concerned w/ their approval and disapproval rather than w/ their physical power. To maintain goodwill, he conforms to families’ and friends’ standards. However, the child is starting to accept others’ social regulations and to judge the goodness or badness of behaviour in terms of a person’s intent to violate these rules Stage 4: Authority and morality that maintain the The person blindly accepts social conventions and rules and believes that if social order society accepts these rules, they should be maintained to avoid censure. He now conforms not just to other individuals’ standards but to social order. According to Kohlberg, many people never go beyond this conventional level of morality Level III: Post-conventional Morality- Self-accepted and Moral Principles People now have flexibility of moral beliefs that they lacked in earlier stages. Stage 5: Morality of contract, individual rights, and Morality is based on an agreement among individuals to conform to norms that democratically accepted law appear necessary to maintain the social order and the rights of others. However, b/c this is a social contract, it can be modified when people within a society rationally discuss alternatives that might be more advantageous to more members of the society People conform both to social standards and to internalized ideals. Their intent is Stage 6: Morality of individual principles and to avoid self-condemnation rather than criticism by others. This is a morality conscience based on respect for others. People who have attained this level will have highly individualistic moral beliefs Moral Development in Girls and Women  Participants in Kohlberg’s initial work were boys, not girls  Feminists contend that Kohlberg’s theory was biased against females and Carol Gillian was the foremost spokesperson for this view o Citing the fact that women usually score lower than men on Kohlberg’s tests, Gillian (1982) pointed out that “the very traits that traditionally have defined the ‘goodness’ of women are those that make them as deficient in moral development  Researchers have rated most women’s moral judgements on these tests at Stage 3, the stage in which morality is conceived in terms of goodness and badness o In this stage, the person is motivated primarily to maintain the goodwill and approval of others, although she is beginning to accept the notion of social regulations and to judge behaviours in terms of whether people conform to or violate these rules  According to Gilligan, Kohlberg’s theory, based as it was on the study of boys and men, fails to account for gender-based differences o E.g. women tend to take a more caring and interpersonal approach to moral dilemmas, whereas men tend to emphasize less clearly personal values as individual rights and principles of justice Effects of Social Interactions on Moral Development  Kohlberg emphasized the importance for the child’s moral development of social interactions that involve role-taking opportunities, and following his lead, researchers devised educational programs to foster the development of moral judgement. o Designed for classroom use, these programs focus on peer discussion of controversial moral issues and practise exploring solutions to moral dilemmas and negotiating w/ others  Children’s moral judgements are also advanced when their parents use consistent disciplinary techniques that involve reasoning and explanation, when they initiate discussion of the feelings of others, and when they promote a democratic family- discussion style  Children’s understanding of moral rules begins at a very early age o Judy Dunn and her colleagues found that children showed the beginnings of moral understanding and rapid increases in understanding b/w the ages of 2 and 3. o As early as 16months, mothers and children engaged in “moral dialogues” about rules, w/ children often nodding, shaking their heads, or providing verbal answers to their mothers’ inquiries about rules o BY 36 months, children produced justifications for their actions and these justifications might invoke the child’s own wants, needs, or feelings (“But I need that”), a social rule (“That doesn’t belong to you”), the feelings of others (“Rachel will be cross if you do that”), or consequences of actions (“You’ll break it if you do that”) Evaluation of Kohlberg’s Theory  Research has generally supported the sequencing of Kohlberg’s stages  However, a related criticism of Kohlberg’s theory is that people often show a remarkable inconsistency in their moral judgements o E.g. when judging moral dilemmas involving a business situation or drinking and driving, participants use reasoning at a lower stage than normal, usually at about stage 2.  Studies have shown that individuals, regardless of their cultural background, developed through the stage sequence in the same manner.  Kohlberg’s focus on individuals rights and obligations may lead to underestimates of moral development in other cultures or may exclude some cultural unique domains of morality  People’s moral judgements also differ depending on the way questions are presented o When an issue is couched in abstract form, rather than embedded in a realistic description of a particular situation of conflict, respondents are more likely to support the default position Distinguishing Moral Judgements from Other Social Rules  At the same time that they learn moral rules against cheating, lying, and stealing, they learn many other social-convention rules: socially based rules about everyday conduct o E.g. table manners, kinds of dress, modes of greeting, forms of address, and other rules of social etiquette  Children as young as 3 can distinguish moral issues form social-convention issues o Children view moral violations as more wrong b/c they result in harm to another and violate norms of justice and others’ rights, whereas they see deviations from social conventions as impolite or disruptive  Children agree that moral issues are fixed, absolute, and invariant across cultures and that social conventions are arbitrary and relative and vary across communities and cultures  Children’s differential b/w moral and conventional rules has implications for another aspect of moral development- development of tolerance o Children are intolerant of moral violations, but they often tolerate not only divergent social conventions but also different psychological and religious beliefs (e.g. “that the way to be really good friends w/ people is never to tell them how you feel about anything”)  Other socializing agents other than parents, include teachers and peers Do Moral Judgements Always Lead to Moral Behaviour  The maturity of a child’s moral judgements doesn’t necessarily predict how the child will actually behave- moral judgements and moral behaviour are often unrelated, especially in young children  Often, children’s behaviour is impulsive and not guided by rational and deliberate thought o A child may have reached Kohlberg’s stage 3, the level of “good-girl morality”, and be concerned w/ maintaining parental approval.  In older children and adults, moral judgements and moral behaviour may be linked The Behavioural Side of Moral Development Self-Regulation and the Delay of Gratification  One goal in socializing children is to help them achieve self-regulation: ability to control behaviour on their own w/o reminders from others  For moral development, children must also learn to inhibit or direct their actions to conform to moral rules  Life is full of temptations, traps, and tugs that try to pull young children away from moral courses of action o Children’s ability to resist these forces is a consequence of both their own emerging cognitive and representational capacities and the guidance that parents, siblings, and other socializing agents provide  How does this capacity to monitor and regulate one’s own behaviour develop? 1. According to Kopp, it begins w/ a control phase, when 12-18 months old, children 1 initiate, maintain, modulate or cease acts when an adult makes a demand. - Children are highly dependent on the caregiver for reminder signals about acceptable behaviours 2. Self-control phase: children gain the ability to comply w/ caregiver expectations in the absence of external monitors - Presumably this is b/c the development of representational thinking and recall memory permits these children to remember the family rules and routines 3. Self-regulation phase: children become able to use strategies and plans to direct their behaviour and to aid them in resisting temptation and to delay gratification: putting off until another time possessing or doing something that gives one pleasure  Although all children progress from control by others through self-control to self-regulation, some progress ore rapidly and achieve higher levels of control than others  Children who, as toddlers, enjoyed this kind of mother-child or father-child relationships developed a higher level of conscience: internalized values and standards of behaviour  B/c children differ in temperament, it’s not surprising that although, overall, a positive mother-child relationship is linked w/ strong conscience development in young children The Affective Side of Morality  Studies have suggested that fearful temperament contributes to guilt proneness, which in turn serves to inhibit children’s tendency to violate rules  In contrast, fearless children don’t experience remorse, guilt, or shame if they violate rules, and b/c they feel no guilt, the lack of guilt doesn’t deter them from future rule violations The Evolution of Prosocial and Altruistic Behaviours  Prosocial behaviour: voluntary behaviour that is intended to benefit or help other people o Includes sharing and co-operating w/ others, helping and caring for them, sympathizing and comforting them in times of distress and need. o It can also encompass actions designed to help groups of people, societies, nations and even the world  Altruistic behaviour: Intrinsically motivated behaviour that is intended to help others w/o expectation of acknowledgement or concrete reward o However, what distinguished in altruistic behaviour in altruism: an unselfish concern for the welfare of other people o Basically the willingness to help another w/o any thought of compensation o Altruistic acts are motivated by internalized values, goals, and self-rewards rather than by the expectation of concrete or social rewards How Prosocial Behaviour Evolves  The roots of prosocial behaviour appear in infancy, when children show things to others or share toys (6-12 months) Changes in Prosocial Behaviour  Sharing and showing aren’t the only ways young children reveal their capacity for prosocial behaviours o From an early age, children engage in a variety of other behaviours, such as caring for siblings, helping adults w/ housework, or comforting another in distress  Children b/w 10-12 months typically become agitated or cry in response to another child’s distress, but they make little effort to help the other child  It’s not until they are 13-14 months do they approach and comfort the child in distress  By 18 months, children not only approach a distressed person but also offer specific kinds of help o E.g. they may offer a toy to a child w/ a broken toy or giving a mother a bandage who cut their finger  By 2 years old, children engage in a wide range of prosocial actions, including verbal advice, indirect helping (i.e. getting their mother the retrieve the baby’s rattle), sharing (giving food to a sister), distraction and protection or defense  Prosocial behaviour not only increases w/ age but also increases w/ cognitive maturation, and has been found to be related to language abilities boys Stability and Styles of
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