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Running head: KOHLBERG'S THEORY OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT1Kohlberg's Theory of Moral DevelopmentShaka Talbert, Tamera Houser, Tonya Mitchell, Wendy CorbinPSYCH/600June 29, 2015Dr. Michael Welsh
KOHLBERG'S THEORY OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT2Kohlberg's Theory of Moral DevelopmentSome moral dilemmas are complex and subjective. When a situation is very personal, andthe risks are high, it can be difficult to assign greater morality to one course of action over another. That was the challenge taken on by Lawrence Kohlberg in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Kohlberg focused on the grey areas between right and wrong to see how both children and adultshandled them. This paper will describe Kohlberg’s theory of moral development followed by the contributions that Kohlberg made to our understanding of moral development, which will includean explanation of Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. Next there will be a description of the limitations of Kohlberg’s theory. Finally, there will be a section on the work of Carol Gilliganconcerning the gender differences in moral reasoning.Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral DevelopmentKohlberg’s theory of the stages of moral development is a refinement of Jean Piaget’s research. While Piaget described moral development as a two stage process, Kohlberg identified six stages within three levels. Kohlberg suggested that moral development was a process that continues throughout a person’s lifespan. To isolate and describe these stages, Kohlberg presented a series of moral dilemmas to groups of different aged children. He then interviewed them to determine the reasoning behind each of their decisions, and to see how moral reasoning changed as they grew older (Berk, 2010). Kohlberg was interested in the process of moral reasoning that individuals use to arrive at decisions. Like Piaget, Kohlberg tied morality to cognitive development, most critically to the ability to see a situation from another person’s perspective.Stages of Moral Development
KOHLBERG'S THEORY OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT3There are six stages of moral development, but Lawrence Kohlberg condensed them into three stages. The first stage is the pre-conventional stage, which indicates the acceptable social norms. The second stage is viewed as acting in one’s own best interest (Barger, 2000). The third