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Psychology 2410A/B
Adam Cohen

WEEK 13: MORALAND PROSOCIAL DEVELOPMENT Morality and Prosocial Behaviour • Morality: the intuitive sense of right and wrong that guides our own behaviour and leads us to judge and possibly condemn others’ behaviours • Humans are unique in holding some behaviours as obligatory and others as prohibited • Prosocial Behaviour: all the nice things we do for, and to, others, including altruism, friendship, coalition behaviours, and even parental behaviours Traditional Views on Moral Development • From conceptual development to language development, traditional debates about the development of morality have predominantly been framed in terms of nature vs. nurture • Hobbes was very much of the opinion that our minds were blank slates • Morality, and any thinking or reasoning about morality, was learned • Locke also held this empiricist view of morality • John Stuart Mill advanced his view of morality: utilitarianism • According to this view, one could and should make deliberate moral decisions based on what is best overall for the greatest number of people • George Edward Moore pointed out what he called the naturalistic fallacy • The naturalistic fallacy is the error of equating what is goof with what is natural, akin to the “is-ought” fallacy • Defining what is good in terms of what occurs in nature, or conversely what is bad in terms of what does not occur in nature, does not work • Piaget and Kohlberg both held the view that morality and moral judgements are delivered to the developing child form society and that processes such as reward and punishment are an integral part of moral development • Moral judgement was dependent upon sufficient cognitive development so that a child could think through the dispassionate logic that Piaget and Kohlberg believed constituted moral thinking • For Piaget and Kohlberg, morality is not based on intuition but on deliberate cognitive reasoning • What Would Piaget and Kohlberg Say About Moral Development? • Piaget’s view of moral development is a stage theory and is consistent with his model of cognitive development generally • Piaget employed a couple of different methods in hid study of moral development • His earlier work on moral development used an observational method • Subsequently, he devised another method wherein he interviewed children about their reaction to rules being broken and rules being followed • Children younger than 6 considered only the amount of damage, whereas older children also considered the intentions of the actor • Piaget's Stages of Moral Development •Piaget described stages of moral development, including the morality of constraint stage, the transitional period, and the stage of autonomous morality •Morality of Constraint • The morality of constraint stage is the earliest stage and typically involves children younger than 7 or 8 years old who have not yet reached the stage of concrete operations WEEK 13: MORALAND PROSOCIAL DEVELOPMENT • In the morality of constraint stage, children take rules as unchangeable and non-negotiable • Following the rules is good, and violating the rules is bad • Children in this stage overlook the intention of the actor; the consequence of the action, not the intention, determines whether the act was good or bad • There were two reasons for the child’s acceptance of rules as unalterable • First, because they were in an early stage of cognitive development, they could only understand rules as “things” like any other object whose existence could not be disputed • Second, parents are bigger than kids and have power over kids, so small children are not in a positions to enter into negotiations •The Transitional Period • Between the ages of 7-10 children are in the transitional period with respect to moral development • During this period, children spend an increasing amount of time with peers and are therefore in more relationships tat are equal with respect to power status • They learn, therefore, that rules can change • Children in this stage also learn how to appreciate another person’s perspective and take into account, and they consider intentions when deciding on punishments •Autonomous Morality • The stage of autonomous morality is actually the second stage of moral development since the transitional period is not a stage in Piaget’s view • Children enter this stage of autonomous morality after the age of 10 and believe that rules are social contracts that can be negotiated and renegotiated • They are able to consider multiple perspectives when proposing fair rules • Kohlberg • Kohlberg gave children fictional stories that ended in a dilemma and asked them to tell him what the right thing to do would be and, very importantly for Kohlberg, why • Kohlberg was a stage theorist and was interested in describing and sequencing the stages that children went through on their way to mature moral reasoning • Kohlberg described three levels of moral reasonings: pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional • Within each level, there are two stages • Exceptionally rare to reach the sixth stage • Pre-conventional reasoning is self-centered, concrete and immediate • In this stage children are focused on punishment and in particular, how to avoid it • Conventional reasoning recognizes that rules are social contracts and people who are in this stage follow rules and laws in order to preserve and promote social relationships and social order • Post-conventional reasoning is reasoning according to ideals or moral principles • At this level, breaking a rule might be called for if breaking the rule involved behaviour that was consistent with that principle WEEK 13: MORALAND PROSOCIAL DEVELOPMENT Stage 1: Obedience One must obey authority to be moral Stage 2: Exchange Following a tit-for-tat strategy is moral Stage 3: Relationships Fulfilling the expectations of one’s social role is moral Stage 4: Law and Order Uphold the law and conform to societal expectations Stage 5: Social Contracts Laws can be violated if they violate individual rights or and Individual Rights harm society Stage 6: Universal Moral There are universal moral principles that do not change Principles regardless of context or majority opinion • Stage 5 and 6 can be thought of as shifting form a social, communal perspective to a more personal perspective, with an emphasis on the value of each person regardless of their or her ideas • Kohlberg believed that these stages were achieved and completed in the same order by children all over the world • Kohlberg was very lear that not all people reached the same stage • Kohlberg eventually abandoned his sixth staged because too few people achieved it • People who have a higher moral reasoning are more likely to provide assistance to others in need and less likely to engage in immoral behaviours • Shortcomings of Kohlberg’s Research • All of Kohlberg’s subjects were male • Kohlberg’s measures of moral development were based on his work with boys and reflect the kinds of answers boys give at various ages • Gilligan specifically suggests that boys are taught to value ideal principles and societal rules and so score relatively high on Kohlberg’s scales, while girls are tuaght to value responsibility for others and avoiding hurting others, which yields a lower score according to Kohlberg’s scales • Another significant critique of Kohlberg’s body of work was the idea that although he posits his stages as universal stages of child development, his results could not be generalized cross-culturally • Children in non-Western cultures do not usually climb as high in terms of Kohlberg’s level compared to children in Western cultures • Furthermore, there are cross-cultural difference in terms of the balance between individual rights and obedience to authority, and Kohlberg does not equally allow for either to be more important than the other • An Evolutionary Commentary on Kohlberg’s Work • Richard Alexander interprets Kohlberg’s six stages in terms of the priorities a child has at different life stages • Alexander liken Stage 1, in which the chid obeys rules just in order to avoid punishment, to the juvenile stage, experienced in many species, in which the developing individual is focussed on its own growth and development WEEK 13: MORALAND PROSOCIAL DEVELOPMENT • Stage 2 sees the child develop the ability to make a fair deal, to execute a concrete exchange • The child here develops the tolerance of others’ needs and interests while still primarily pursuing his own needs and interests • Here Alexander sees a life stage dominated by physical growth but now employing a mix of direct and indirect efforts, where indirect efforts involve engaging other people in fulfilling one’s needs • In stage 3 the child begins to be concerned with others’ feelings and to cultivate relationships • Here Alexander sees the development of the ability to engage in indirect reciprocity • Stage 4 is the stage of social systems and conscience maintenance • A person is now concerned for his reproductive efforts • Stage 5 involves upholding the values and principles of the society, even when they conflict with explicit laws and rules • Alexander sees here a “complete commitment to the notion of rule-enforcement” • Stage 6 is the stage of universal ethical principles • In this stage, one is to assume that universal ethical principles exist and that all people, in all cultures, in all circumstance should follow these ideal principles • Alexander sees this as an extension of people becoming preoccupied with rules as they become increasingly concerned with their own reproductive efforts What Evolutionary Thinking Adds to Moral and Prosocial Development • The view f moral development that is forwarded by evolutionary psychology has been summarized thus: 1. The learning mechanisms of human include learning mechanisms specialized for solving the adaptive problems of the EEA 2. These specialized learning mechanisms include content that led to learning that would have been adaptive in the EEA 3. Developing children can “learn” their culture or become socialized to the extent that these specialized learning mechanisms were designed for this purpose • The implication of this view is that there will be universals in the development of morality, and the culture-specific or individual differences form the universal “template” should deviate from the template in predictable ways based on relevant factors in the developing individuals life • In other words, this view explicitly rejects the blank slate idea The Function of Morality • The function of our moral psychology is to enable us to behave in the world in a wy that maximizes out evolutionary fitness • Out moral psychology functions so well that it creates a veneer of instinct blindness • This perspective stands in contrast to Piaget’s and Kohlberg’s perspective • Our well-designed moral psychology works so well that it seems that there are really moral rights and wrongs in the world waiting for us to learn about and reason with • There are specific kinds of morality that are designed to affect behaviour in specific domain, each with its own evolutionary history, each with its own cognitive underpinnings and each with its own developmental story WEEK 13: MORALAND PROSOCIAL DEVELOPMENT Social Behaviour and Fitness • We have a complex social psychology that is unique to humans • Living in a group and creating alliances and friendships provided protection and insulated one somewhat form the fluctuations for source availability • The social skills afforded by one’s human social psychology that allowed alliances and friendships and avoided offenses were a matter of life and death in EEA
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