This paper will examine that part of human growth and development which may observed in the early childhood period (preschool years), in particular that area of growth and development termed “morality”.
The complexity of this area and the concepts involved necessitates a rather expansive look at the perspectives on Moral Development in order to develop contextual understanding of the subject matter.
General description of morality according to Freud, Piaget, Kohlberg and Bandura.
Notwithstanding endless debate re the definition of morality (Gibbs 2003; Turiel 2006), arguably it involves at least the distinguishing of right from wrong and acting upon that distinction. Followed by feeling pride or guilt/shame when the right or wrong action is selected.
Developmental science has mainly been concerned with:
a) The affective component, (guilt, concerns, pride, etc) surrounding actions – the emotional feelings motivating thoughts and actions
b) The cognitive component, (recognising the concepts of right and wrong) driving decisions about behaviour, utilising social cognitive skills – role taking, empathy, etc
c) The behavioural component, (our behaviour in given circumstances).
These three major perspectives on moral development each focus on a different aspect of morality –
a) Moral affect is examined by psychoanalytic theory
b) Moral cognition (reasoning) is studied by cognitive developmental theory.
c) Moral behaviour is studied by social cognitive theory (social learning).
This culminates with an evolutionary perspective viewpoint.
The psychoanalytical theory
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