KOHLBERG’S MORAL DEVELOPMENT THEORY Lawrence Kohlberg tested children of different ages to determine how moral values are acquired. He developed a theory that has three levels: Preconventional Level “If I can get away with it I will.” • Stage 1 - Punishment - Actions are evaluated based on whether or not they will result in punishment, not on whether they are good or bad. • Characteristic of young children and delinquents “What’s in it for me?” • Stage 2 - Pleasure Seeking Orientation Actions are determined by one’s needs and whether the other person will give you what you want. Conventional “I don’t misbehave because my teacher wouldn’t like it.” • Stage 3 - Good boy/good girl orientation Other’s approval is the measure of what is right. “I don’t steal because it is against the law.” • Stage 4 - Authority Orientation - Morality is based on a respect for authority, doing one’s duty and following social roles. • Characteristic of older children and adults. Postconventional “I don’t steal because society has made a law against stealing.” • Stage 5 - Social -contract orientation Support of rules is based on rational analysis and mutual agreement. Rules can be negotiated, but are followed for the good of others and to uphold deeply held principles. “I don’t steal because it is wrong.” • Stage 6- Universal Ethics Principle • The individual has chosen his/her own code of principles that tend to be universal and control all aspects of his/her life. • High value is placed on justice, equality and dignity. *** • Only 20% of adults ever reach this stage. Criticisms Critics argue that Kohlberg’s model is biased because it emphasizes western biases. A study of American and Indian moral reasoning found that Americans are concerned about justice while Indians were interested in responsibilities in relationships. Carol Gilligan was colleague of Kohlberg, from Harvard, who found that women scored lower on tests of Kohlberg’s model because they had a care orientation focused on fairness to all parties concerned, while men were had a justice orientation. Research has indicated that each sex is influenced somewhat by the above orientations, but neither sex is completely influenced by either orientation.