Psychology in Action

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MORAL DEVELOPMENT - The section on moral development begins with a discussion of Kohlberg's three levels of reasoning. A. Assessing Kohlberg’s Theory – Criticisms have focused on three major areas: 1) reasoning versus behavior, 2) cultural differences, and 3) possible gender bias. B. Kohlberg’s Research – Kohlberg believes that moral development was universal, invariant, and developmental. Kohlberg’s stages include: the pre-conventional level (morality is based on self-centered personal benefit or the avoidance of punishment); the conventional level (morality reflects the need for approval and the desire to maintain social order); and, the post-conventional level (moral reasoning is guided by higher principles of conduct). Critical Thinking/Active Learning: Morality and Academic Cheating – Recent research from The Center for Academic Integrity on cheating is highlighted and students are given an opportunity to consider moral dilemmas and apply Kohlberg’s stages. II. PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT A. Thomas and Chess's Temperament Theory - Thomas and Chess emphasize the genetic component of certain traits (such as sociability) and the fact that babies often exhibit differences in temperament shortly after birth. They found that 65% of babies observed fell into three categories: easy, difficult, or slow-to-warm-up children. B. Erikson's Psychosocial Theory - Erikson expanded on Freud's ideas and theorized eight psychosocial stages that cover the entire life span. Childhood includes: trust versus mistrust, autonomy versus shame and doubt, initiative versus guilt, and industry versus inferiority. Erikson believes the major psychosocial crisis of adolescence is the search for identity versus role confusion. During young adulthood, the individual's task is to establish intimacy over isolation, and during middle adulthood, the person must deal with generativity versus stagnation. At the end of life, the older adult must establish ego integrity, which depends on the acceptance of the life that has been lived, or face overwhelming despair at the realization of lost opportunities. Critics of Erikson point out lack of cross-cultural support particularly in collectivist cultures, the stage of adolescent storm and stress, the midlife crisis, and the empty nest. Never-the- less, Erikson’s influence on developmental psychology has been great. C. Evaluating Erikson’s Theory – Critics of Erikson note that the eight stages are difficult to test and they may not be supported cross-culturally. Gender and Cultural Diversity: Cultural Influences on Development – Differences in cultural views on the concept of self are explored contrasting individualistic and collectivistic cultures. III. MEETING THE CHALLENGES OF ADULTHOOD – This section looks at how committed relationships, divorce may influence personality development.
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