Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development


Kohlberg's theory is divided into three levels with two stages per level.


Level one:
Stage one (Preschool age 3-4)
Stage two (K - grade 3)

Understands neither social conventional or moral rules

Stage one is characterized by a pain-pleasure response for individual satisfaction. Control: Use of physical force for compliance. Short-term effect. Physical constraint - Physical abuse

Stage two is characterized by the attitude: I want to appear fair, but come out ahead. Control: Positive reinforcement - Negative reinforcement - Abuse.


Level two:
Stage three (grades 4 - 8)
Stage four (grades 9 - 1)

Understands and embraces social coventions

Stage three is characterized by a perception of the social order as a need to please, help, or conform for the benefit of the group. Control: Peer pressure - Concern for feelings of group. Range from cooperation and working together and helping each other to ostracism and shunning or shaming a person and making s/he an outcast.

Stage four is characterized by a perception of a need or duty to obey social rules and regulations to maintain social order to have an ordered society. Control: Individual responsibility, Legal systems with an over reliance on legalism and laws carried to extremes.


Level three:
Stage five (maybe grade 11-1 for a few?
Stage six (?)

Understands and embraces morality

Stage five is characterized by individuals that attempt to define moral principles as social-contracts, or legal-contracts based on an understanding of principles of justice and a democratic community. Control: Governance and sanctions based on general democratic principles: fairness, equity, toleration, freedom of thought...

Stage six is characterized by universal justice and ethical considerations that respect the dignity of individuals. Control: principled self-control.


Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
[Home: thehob.net & homeofbob.com ]