Moral Development Theories

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AJS123 – Bill Williams
Moral Development Written Assignment
September 30, 2012

Developmental theorists seek explanations to why some people deviate from social norms (laws), why some of those who develop anti-social behavior cease and others continue, why for some individuals crimes is progressive and why some people stop committing crimes as they age.  Like in psychology, there is an element of nature versus nurture in examining the theories of moral development.  In strict terms, biological theories can be compared to "nature" whereas the learning models are congruent to "nurture".  Biological factors of moral development tend to be the most controversial as they explain crime in terms of environmental effects on ethical decision making. Biological criminologists research the effects of hormones, foreign substances and injures to the brain for correlation with deviant behavior. For example if a person exhibits deviant behavior such as viewing child pornography after sustaining a hemorrhagic stroke affecting the frontal lobe, biological criminologists would attribute the behavior directly to the damaged brain tissue. Latent trait theorists believe human moral development is controlled by genetics and is present from birth and remains fairly constant through life (like temperament) and includes whether an individual is compelled to a life of crime.  Within this theory is a variable of exposure to certain interpersonal interactions and availability of opportunities, increases the propensity for crime within these genetically predisposed individuals.  Some examples of latent traits include defective intelligence, compulsivity and impulsiveness, chemical imbalances (brain) and environmental effects of drugs and injuries on the brain.   Learning theories of moral development state that children learn what they are taught, including morals and values as well as behavior. The moral development can be taught through modeling or reinforcement. In modeling it...
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