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Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development | Kohlberg moral development theory

Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development

Kohlberg's moral development was a modified version of piaget theory. His moral ideas were influenced by piaget's theory. Kohlberg's theory is that morality in students is not innate but through society.

Kohlberg laid down his theory of moral development in 1969 and revised his ideas in 1981 and 1984. Kohlberg 's ethics is a part of the emotional nature of students. Kohlberg used stories to test him. He used to ask students some questions through these stories and set up principles of moral development through the answers to those questions.

Kohlberg (1958) further developed Piaget's description of Moral Standards. Like Piaget Kohlberg also believes that the child's moral development proceeds from specificity to generality. It transforms itself from the conceptualisation of immediate retribution to the well being of the others contained in general rules. In his researches Kohlberg employed interview technique which brought him to this conclusion that there are following stages of the moral development of the child.

Whether the object or ideas in the life of students are moral or unethical are determined by developing moral values. Hence this theory of kohlberg is known as kohlberg moral development theory (kohlberg moral development theory).

Pre-Conventional Stage 

According to Kohlberg, this phase of moral development is of four to ten years. The moral development of students at this stage is negligible, i. e. children are unable to understand the difference between right and wrong.

At this age, the student chooses right and wrong with the fear of punishment and desires to receive rewards. Kohlberg divided this state of moral development (kohlberg theory) into two parts -

Stage 1. Punishment and Obedience Orientation : At this stage the child primarily pays attention towards keeping himself away from difficulty and this way saves himself from pain, obstruction to his freedom and anxiety.

Stage 2. Instrumental-relativist Orientation : The child at this stage also remains attentive to his needs but the understands now that the others too have rights.

Conventional Stage 

According to kohlberg this is the second phase of development of morality (kohlberg theory) that lasts 10 to 13 years. Under it, students are more social, that is, they perform actions which will bring them respect from the society. At this age, students emulate the level of morality of other people.

He can take appropriate decisions by explaining the difference between right and wrong according to other persons' standards. This condition is also divided into 2 parts by kohlberg, which are as follows:

Stage 3. Nice-Girl/Good Boy Orientation : The Golden Rule: At this stage the child begins to like the goodwill of others and tries to please others and to obtain their approval. He moulds himself to the traditional patterns of social norms and in arriving a judgements keeps himself and others intentions in mind.

Stage 4. Law and Order Orientation : The child understands that the social system is dependent on the performance of their duties by the individuals and on their willingness for respecting the law.

Post Conventional Stage 

Kohlberg states that it is a child above 13 years of age; it is a developed form of morality. In which student ethics mature in development. At this stage, students start giving prominence to their responsibilities towards society.

This state is also divided into two steps:

Stage 5. Social Contract Orientation : Right actions are defined according to those norms, needs and rights which are accepted unanimously by the society. Through a proper procedure these norms can be changed. Hence, whatever decisions are taken at this stage are more flexible.

Stage 6. Universal-ethical-principle Orientation : At this stage the individual not only keeps in mind the norms of the society but also the limits to which the universal principles are applicable. In extreme cases the individual is prepared to sacrifice his all for the maintenance of these norms. He may even be prepared to sacrifice his life. Very few individuals reach upto this level of morality.

The experiments conducted by Kohlberg led him to believe that the individual definitely passes through all these stages. It means that the child will not develop the Concept of morality from Stage 2. He will first of all have to pass through Stage 1. With this it has also been found that a person irrespective of at what stage of moral development he is, makes his judgement on the basis of many determines. For example a child of eight years mostly takes his moral decisions at the Stage 3 but in the case of tension or stress he starts making his decisions at Stage 2 or Stage 1.

At this stage, students, with the help of their own judgement and self - reflection, make decisions between right and wrong. This shows the maturity of the student; at this stage, students start following the rules of policy according to their thoughts.

Characteristics of Kohlberg Theory of Moral Devlopment

1.  Kohlberg substitutes its 6 steps to universal truth.

2.  According to him, moral values of students develop with the help of society.

3.  Kohlberg has divided his theory into six stages.

4.  According to this theory, students are able to understand the difference between right and wrong on a moral basis.

5.  Kohlberg asks the stories to be used as medium for his trial.