Moral Development

Powerful Essays
Topics: Gender, Gender role
Jean Piaget was one of the first developmental psychologists to examine the moral judgments and moral development of children. He believed that children moved from considering punishment and other consequences to considering intentions and circumstances when attempting to resolve moral conflicts. What children believe about whether an action is right or wrong depends on their level of cognition (Miller, 2002). Freud believed that morality was encompassed in the superego. In his view, morality develops during the third stage, the Phallic Stage when children begin to identify with the views of the same sex parent. Interestingly, Freud believed that males have stronger superegos because of the intense castration anxiety felt during the Oedipal conflict of the Phallic Stage. This anxiety leads to stronger identification and therefore stronger, more punitive, superegos. Erickson also integrated identity development into his psychosocial stages. The fifth stage of Erickson’s model is identity achievement versus identity diffusion. One of the concerns of this stage is the development and acceptance of an ethical value system. Lawrence Kohlberg was influenced by many of Piaget’s ideas about moral development. He developed his own moral developmental model which included six stages. People move from the first stage where morality is based on one’s obedience to rules and authority to the sixth and final stage where one uses a universal principle to resolve moral dilemmas (Kohlberg, 1969, as cited in Donenberg & Hoffman, 1988). While people move through these stages one at a time, not everyone reaches the sixth and final stage. One of the reasons Kohlberg’s stages of moral development have been criticized is because the standardization sample from his study was made up entirely of males (Donenberg & Hoffman, 1988). Without females in the standardization sample, females’ concerns about morality were not included in his analysis. Also, all of the


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