Kohlberg's Theory Of Moral Development

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“How individuals reason about moral issues represents the central question driving research in the cognitive developmental tradition. Beginning with Piaget (1932/1965) and later Kohlberg (1969), this question has been addressed by attending to the individual’s developing understanding of cooperation and associated judgments of fairness” (Thoma, 2014). Morality begins to develop at a young age and continues to develop through life experiences and social interactions. Lawrence Kohlberg found through his studies of young subjects that an individual’s morality could be developed as either positive or negative, depending on their life experiences. “Inherent in human nature are certain structuring tendencies, which attempt to make sense of people’s …show more content…
What one knows (or rather, how one is knowing it) emerges in light of these interactions with the environment” (Hayes, 1994). Kohlberg expanded from Jean Piaget’s previous work, which consisted of two stages, and developed it into three levels with six stages. Moral development is dynamic; it continues to develop throughout ones lifespan and the path varies from person to person. The moral development of an individual is directly related to the likelihood of becoming a criminal and maintaining a delinquent status in society’s eyes.
There are three basic principles that appeal to psychologists who study criminality: (1) the actions and behavior of an adult are understood in terms of childhood development, (2) Behavior and unconscious motives are intertwined, and their interaction must be unraveled if
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Kohlberg and his colleagues have changed the way we view, think, and analyze moral development. Most importantly, he has set the basis for understanding criminality and delinquency by understanding the role of moral development in individuals. Current scholars are utilizing Kohlberg’s phases of moral development in applications such as counseling, rather than how it is currently only in a school and prison setting. “Just as two decades of research have shown the efficacy of Kohlberg’s cognitive-developmental approach to moral education in school settings, the decades ahead are likely to see extensions of his approach into counseling in a variety of settings as well” (Hayes, 1994). “The cluster of parenting behaviors that predicted children’s moral development not only involved discussion style but also level of moral reasoning. It was found that a relatively large stage disparity between parents and child was predictive of moral reasoning development, consistent with Kohlberg’s claims” (Walker, 1991). Thanks to the research, with this knowledge parents are better able to guide their child in moral development with the hopes of lessening the chance of delinquency or criminality at any stage of their life. Also, “Future research should examine whether the integration of moral cognition and moral emotion better predicts recidivism”

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