Kohlberg Theory of Moral Development, CTET. CTET Paper II, KVS, DSSSB, CDP

Kohlberg Theory of Moral Development

Lawrence Kohlberg proposed Moral Development Theory in 1958. He defined three levels of and six stages of moral development

Kohlberg Theory of Moral Development, CTET. CTET Paper II, KVS, DSSSB, CDP
Levels and Stages of Moral Development Theory

Kohlberg extended the earlier work done by Jean Piaget. He believed that moral development like cognitive development follows a series of stages. He used the idea of moral dilemmas (Dilemma: a problem involving a difficult choice, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dilemma), or stories of conflicting ideas about two moral values to teach 10–16-year-old boys about morality and values.

One of the best dilemmas created by Kohlberg was “Heinz Dilemma” in this dilemma Heinz’s wife was suffering from cancer and Heinz was not having money so there was a critical choice between “saving the life of his wife” versus “stealing the drug”.

After presenting various dilemmas to people, Kohlberg reviewed people’s responses and placed them indifferent stages of moral reasoning. Individuals progress through pre-conventional to post-conventional, post-conventional is tough to attain just like Piaget’s Operational stage which is tough to achieve.

Kohlberg Theory is explained in the following points:

Level 1: Preconventional Moral Reasoning
In this level of child senses morality and is extremely controlled. Children accept rules of authority, parents, and teachers. In this stage, the child doesn’t know what is right and what is wrong socially.

Stage 1: Obedience and Punishment Orientation: - In this stage, children desire to obey rules and avoid being punished, if they are punished, which gives the signals that their act is morally wrong.

Stage 2: Instrumental Orientation: - In this stage children act like give and take strategy, you do my work and I will do yours. In this stage, children take some incentives in return to do work.

Level 2: Conventional Moral Reasoning 
In this stage children morality linked to personal and social context, in this stage children, start following authority rules, rituals, loyalty and reasoning is based on the norms of the group which the person belongs.
Stage 3: Good Boy or Nice Girl Orientation: - People want to be praised and want to be seen as a good boy or nice girl by others. People want to attain good social status and recognition.

Stage 4: Law and Order Orientation (Maintaining the social Order): - People become aware of wider rules of society and follow the law to avoid guilt. For example, we stop our vehicle at the red light.

Level 3: Post Conventional Moral Reasoning 
This is a higher level of morality explained by Kohlberg and attained by very few people in life. At this level, some people think that some rules should be changed and they may disobey some rules. They can think their own what should be done morally despite social rules for that particular situation.

Stage 5: Social and Contract and Individual Right: - Some people think that rules are for good for human beings but sometime they should be disobeyed depending on the situation and interest of the individual. For example in Heinz's dilemma, saving the life of his wife was more important than law and order.

Stage 6: Universal Principles: In this stage, people develop their own guidelines and these laws sometimes fit and sometimes do fit with the law. The principles apply to everyone and Human rights, Justice, and equality prepared to act on to defend these principles even if these are against society. These people only think about humanity and try to do anything to help other people without their own interest.

Educational Implementation of Moral Theory

  • Teach students to develop morally and helping each other.
  • Students learn what is right and wrong in the schools.
  • Students have to follow rules which help them to understand what should be done and what should not be.
  • Workshops can be arranged to understand issues in society and how to tackle them.

Criticism of Kohlberg Theory

  • Dilemmas were unreal and artificial.
  • In every dilemma, males were targeted in a critical situation.
  • The research design was poor; they may be good for one culture and bad for other cultures.
  • The theory only talked about morality and not about love, caring, emotions, etc. 


Pic Source: Pixabay

Keywords: Kohlberg, Heinz Dilemma, Lawrence Kohlberg, Moral Development Theory, Kohlberg theory of moral development educational implications, CDP, B.ed, CTET, HTET, UPTET, TET, REET, MDU, KU.

Other Theories:
Pavlov Theory
Thorndike Theory
Gardner Theory of Multiple Intelligence

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