Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development

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Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development

Level A
Preconventional *Ages 0-9, behaviour motivated by the anticipation of pleasure of pain

Stage #1- Punishment and Obedience *do what’s right to avoid breaking rules, doing the right thing to avoid punishment. Punishment overcomes the child’s mind; punishment proves that disobedience is wrong.
Example (child) – A child will stop trying to take a sibling’s toy in order to avoid being sent to his room and to gain or maintain his mother’s love.
Example (adult) – Those who committed atrocities during the Holocaust because they were “just following orders”
Stage#2- Individual Instrumental Purpose and Exchange *what is right is following the rules when it is to someone’s immediate interest, right is what is fair or what is an equal exchange of rights and responsibilities, develop a perception of fairness and reciprocity, children recognize that there is not just one right view that is handed down by the authorities, different individuals have different viewpoints. Punishment has simply become a risk that the child naturally would like to avoid.
Example- “If you scratch my back, ill scratch yours”

Level B
Conventional Morality *Ages 9-20, acceptance of rules and standards of one’s group

Stage#3- Interpersonal Conformity *what is right is being “nice”, concerned for other’s feelings, being loyal and trustworthy, as well as forgiving, good behaviour shows in the eyes of others, understanding that being good benefits the community

Example- A child tries to live up to the family expectations by behaving in “good” ways

Stage#4- Law and Order *doing what is right is following the laws of society, justice demands that a wrongdoer be punished and that law abiders be rewarded, authority figures such as the Prime Minister or Pope are rarely questioned because they are known to uphold what is right (assumption), strong values of order and respect for authority

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