Moral Development Theory

Moral Development
Growing Morality
 uncomfortable when others are hurt
 interest in others
Early Childhood
 aware that harmful actions are wrong
 cooperation & negotiation begin to develop
Middle Childhood
 understand fairness, capacity to feel guilt & shame
 more influenced by peers, increasingly prosocial
 more advanced reasoning
 personal needs & self-interests affect decisions
Early Theories
Begins with external control
 Moves to internal control
 Freud / Erikson
 Behaviorism
 Social Learning Theory
 Constructivism
 Personal preferences
 Social conventions
 Moral imperatives
Theory of Moral
Lawrence Kohlberg
6 stages
Used moral
dilemmas to
Kohlberg’s Stages
Level One
 Stage 1: Punishment-avoidance and
 Stage 2: Exchange of favors / self interest
Level Two
 Stage 3: Good boy/good girl
 Stage 4: Law and order
Level Three
 Stage 5: Social contract
 Stage 6: Universal ethical principle
Kohlberg’s Dilemma
In Europe, a woman was near death from a rare form of
cancer. There was one drug that the doctors thought
might save her, a form of radium that a druggist in the
same town had recently discovered. The druggist was
charging $2,000, ten times what the drug cost him to
The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went to everyone he
knew to borrow the money, but he could only get
together about half of what the drug cost. He told the
druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it
cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said no. So
Heinz got desperate and broke into the man's store to
steal the drug for his wife.
Heinz Dilemma Reasoning
Stage 1: Punishment avoidance
pro – “Hopefully he won’t get caught.”
 con – “He’ll go to jail.”
Stage 2: Exchange of favors/ self-interest
pro – “Heinz will be lonely if his wife dies.”
 con – “Prison is an awful place.”
Heinz Dilemma Reasoning
Stage 3: Good boy/good girl
pro – “He’ll show what a good husband he is.”
 con – “Other people will think he is a bad man.”
Stage 4: Law and order
pro – “A husband has a duty to care for his
 con – “It’s against the law.”
Heinz Dilemma Reasoning
Stage 5: Social contract
pro – “The law isn’t intended to cause
someone’s death.”
 con – “The druggist’s rights aren’t being
Stage 6: Universal ethical principle
pro – “Saving a life is more important than
 con – “If he steals the drug, others who need
the drug can’t buy it.”
Gilligan’s Theory
Carol Gilligan
Kohlberg’s theory
Identified 3 stages
Development of Aggression
At what age?
Types of aggression
 Instrumental
 Hostile
 Overt
 Relational
Which gender is most aggressive?
Fostering Prosocial Behaviors
Direct teaching
Label appropriate behaviors as they occur
Plan cooperative activities
Expose children to models of prosocial
Clear expectations for behavior
Discipline vs Punishment
discipline is long-term
punishment is short-term
fosters self-regulation, respect, problemsolving; fosters internal motivation
stops a behavior
positive discipline
Discipline Strategies
 Establish and maintain logical routines
 Set and maintain clear expectations: clarify
wanted behaviors
 Use the environment to support expectations
 Offer choices: fewer w/ young children more
open-ended for older children
 Offer opportunities for problem-solving,
practice and role-playing
 Consider how big a deal it is; choose to ignore
small transgressions
Setting Limits
 Acknowledge child’s opinion & wishes
 Explain your reasoning
 Model using different perspectives
 Promote children’s problem-solving;
negotiate if appropriate
 Be consistent
 Use logical consequences when limits are