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child dev ch 14

16 Pages

Course Code
PSYC 304
Marjorie Rabio

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Chapter 14: Moral Development Childrens moral development involves the ways in which they come to understand and follow the rules of their social world. Moral rules: broad issues of fairness and justice Social conventions: rules used by society to maintain order Morality has different components: 1) Thought processes that underlie morality are assessed in moral reasoning studies 2) Behaviours governed by morality are assessed in studies of moral conduct 1) Theories of Moral Development A) Cognitive-Developmental Approaches Since young children often have difficulty taking multiple perspectives into account, cognitive developmentalists have concluded that advances in moral reasoning abilities depend heavily on childrens improving cognitive abilities. a) Piagets Theory Piaget used 2 methods to investigate how childrens conceptions of morality develop: 1) Naturalistic approach: he examined how youngsters created and enforced rules of their games, and he questioned them about circumstances under which rules could be modified or even ignored. 2) Experimental: he presented individual children with moral dilemmas to solve, in order to assess their level of moral reasoning. They took the form of short stories in which the child had to determine which of the two characters was naughtier. Piaget developed a 4 stage model of moral development: Stage 1: (2-4 years old) Children have no real conception of morality. Their behaviour includes play that has no formal rules. Stage 2: The stage of Moral Realism: (5-7 years old) Rule following emerges and children approach the concept in an absolutist manner. Childrens reasoning is based on objective and physical aspects of a situation and is often inflexible. Another characteristic of this stage is immanent justice: children believe that punishment must follow any rule violation, including those that appear to go undetected. Objective responsibility: Children evaluate moral situations on the basis of amount of damage. Stage 3: The stage of Moral Relativism: (8-11 years) Children view rules as agreements that can be altered and consider peoples motives or intentions when evaluating their moral conduct. Stage 4: Children become capable of developing new rules when the circumstances require it. Piaget believed that both cognitive factors and social experiences underlie the development of moral reasoning. The movement away from egocentrism as well as interactions with peers help develop moral reasoning. Through their interactions with peers, children learn that there can be several perspectives on an issue and that rules are the result of negotiating, compromising and respecting the points of view of other people. b) Kohlbergs Model Kohlberg presented children with moral dilemmas in which the child must choose what the character should do, and explain why. Kohlberg concluded that moral reasoning develops in 3 predictable levels: 1) Preconventional level: Kohlbergs first two stages of moral development. Moral reasoning is based on the assumption that individuals must serve their own needs. 2) Conventional level: Kohlbergs 3 and 4 stages of moral development. Moral reasoning is based on the view that a social system must be based on laws and regulations. 3) Postconventional level: Kohlbergs final stages of moral development. Moral reasoning is based on the assumption that the value, dignity and rights of each individual person must be maintained. Few individuals attain the 6 stage. Kohlbergs theory assumes that moral development results from a combination of improving cognitive skills and repeated encounters with moral issues. This model places particular importance on role-taking opportunities, which occur when children participate in decision-making situations with others and exchange differing points of view on moral questions. Stage 1: Morality derives from power and authority Stage 2: Morality means looking out for yourself Stage 3: Morality means doing what makes you liked Stage 4: Whats right is whats legal Stage 5: Human rights take precedence over laws Stage 6: Morality is a matter of personal conscience c) Turiels Model Turiel interviewed children about hypothetical situations. The stories were designed to depict rule violations in 3 distinct domains: 1) Moral domain: concerned with peoples rights and welfare, issues concerning fairness and justice (ex: lying, stealing). 2) Social domain: social conventions: rules that guide social relations among people (ex: being polite). 3) Matters of personal choice: individual preferences take priority (ex: hairstyle, choice of friends). By age 3, most children can differentiate the different domains and realize that moral violations are worse than violations of social conventions. Childrens understanding of issues within the moral domain is thought to result from their social interactions, especially with peers. B) Evolutionary and Biological Approaches Evolutionary theorists believe the rudiments of human morality must exist in the behaviour of nonhuman primates. a) Altruism Altruistic behaviours are those that benefit someone else but offer no obvious benefit, and perhaps even some cost, to the individual performing them (ex: giving money to charity). Paradox of Altruism: the logical dilemma faced by ethological theorists who try to reconcile self-sacrificial behaviour with the concepts of natural selection and survival of the fittest. Sociobiologists have attempted to resolve this problem by adding 2 concepts to Darwins notion of survival of the fittest: 1) Kin Selection: a proposed mechanism by which an individual behaves in ways that increase the chances for the survival and reproduction of their genes, rather than themselves. 2) Reciprocal Altruism: people are genetically programmed to be helpful because: 1) it increases the likelihood that they will someday in turn receive aid from the person they helped, or from some other altruistic member of their group, or 2) by helping someone else in their social group, they help ensure that genes similar to their own will be passed on in the species. b) Aggression One function of aggression is to increase the likelihood of survival of an individuals genes. Aggression is involved in predation, defending the nest (home) against intruders, and defending valuable territory The evolutionary view is that aggression is an inevitable part of human nature Aggression may lead to dominance hierarchies: a structured organization in which each group member fits a slot, controlling those below and submitting to those above. Dominance hierarchies are one way of managing conflicts of interest among group members. Chimpanzees have also shown nonaggressive methods of managing conflict, which require the ability to keep track of past social exchanges and a capacity for empathy and sympathy. C) Environmental/Learning Approaches Theorists emphasize environmental mechanisms, such as reinforcement, punishment and observational learning (modelling and imitation). This approach predicts that behaviours should develop more individually, depending primarily on each childs social environment and personal experiences. Bandura holds that reinforcement and punishment are major processes by which children acquire moral behaviours. Children are more likely to produce behaviours that are approved or rewarded and tend to inhibit behaviours that are ignored or punished. With development, reinforcement and observational processes become internalized, and children learn to use them to regulate their own behaviour. D) Sociocultural Approaches These approaches view moral development as a process of socialization. Children develop moral understanding during their interactions with parents and other adults. Adults scaffold childrens moral development. 2) Moral Reasoning A) Evaluating Piagets Model Piagets model has substantial support: 1) With age, children do increasingly consider motives and intentions when evaluating the morality of actions. 2) Various cognitive measures, including perspective-taking and mental state understanding, have been associated with childrens level of moral judgement 3) Peer relations are an important context for moral development: childrens peer relations provide many opportunities to tackle moral issues. 4) Children can achieve advances in moral reasoning via discussions with peers 5) Children with punitive parents who reinforce strict adherence to rules do tend to display less mature moral reasoning and behaviour. Piaget was wrong about a few things too:
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