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Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development

How do people inculcate morality? Moral development is a hot topic in psychology. Students study moral development theories as part of PSY207: DevelopmentPsychology.This psychological course has been introduced in many educational institutions in Singapore.

Scholars are asked to write essays, assignments, and reaction papers about Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. This article would provide psychology assignment help for Singapore students. Does every kid develop morality in different ways? What factors influence moral development? Let’s study one of the best theories exploring these basic questions.

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Kohlberg theory of moral development

Lawrence Kohlberg gave the theory of moral development. The Kohlberg theory of moral development denotes that an individual’s progress undergoes three levels of moral thinking that are essential in building his cognitive development.

The American psychologist theory consists of six developmental stages which denote that moral reasoning is an important factor in ethical behavior. Let’s find more about Kohlberg’s stages of moral development through real-life examples.

Stages of Kohlberg moral development

Kohlberg gave three levels of moral reasoning.

Level 1 pre_conventional

Throughout the pre-conventional level, a sense of morality in young children is studied. A child’s sense of morality is controlled externally by their teachers and parents. Moreover, a child is unaware of what is right and wrong. In turn, he does not consider the external consequences of his actions.

Stage 1 punishment and obedience orientation: This stage focuses on children’s wish to obey the rules and avoid punishment. For example, a child being punished when found stealing or cheating.

Stage 2 self-interest orientation: This expresses paying for a benefit and what’s there for me. Here, children are not motivated by the respect of friendship. Further, the only focus is on personal advantages. For example, parents offer a reward to a child if he secures good grades.

Level 2 conventional

Conventional morality was studied in older children, adults, and adolescents. Here, a child wants to ensure his societal and personal relationships. Besides, he might question the rules’ appropriateness and conventions.
Stage 3 good interpersonal relationships:In this stage, a person wants to behave nicely to be accepted by societal groups. For example, when a person buys medicine to save someone’s life.
Stage 4 maintaining the law and order orientation: This stage shows the importance of rules and regulations to maintain a functional society.
It is a duty and an obligation for a person to uphold the rules and laws of society. The majority of society members remain in stage 4, where an outside force dominates morality.

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Level 3 post-conventional

The morality in level 3 is found really in a few adults.
Stage 5 individual rights and social contract orientation: At this stage, the perception of people can have different values, opinions, and rights.For example, voting in the democratic government. The members of society might agree upon that rules of laws are significant for maintaining society.

Stage 6 Universal ethical principles: The final stage of this theory denotes that moral reasoning is built on personal values. For example, during the voting process, the majority votes to other parties can hurt a minority group. The universal ethical principles reflect dignity, equality, respect, and justice. Besides, laws can only be effective if a person in this stage upholds these universal principles.

Critics of Kohlberg theory

The limitations of Kohlberg’s moral development theory are

  • Androcentrism- Kohlberg’s theory is based on male participants and doesn’t concern women.
  • Intuition versus reasoning- many psychologists argued that moral reasoning is very less relevant in making a moral judgment. Moral actions are rationals of intuitive decisions also.
  • Lack of post-conventional reasoning- moral judgment depends on educational attainment. There was hardly any difference in moral actions between the genders. It was argued that a high score in Kohlberg’s highest stages is not required to exhibit moral commitment and ethical behavior.
  • Cross-cultural issues- the stages of moral development do not involve every culture. Hence they are not culturally neutral.
  • Inconsistent moral judgments- people can demonstrate inconsistency in moral actions. This occurs when participants are involved in any business situation, driving, or drinking.


The above essay reflects on the learnings about Kohlberg’s moral development theory. This theory created a new field of psychology. The general hypothesis denotes that moral behavior is more predictable and responsible for adults at a higher level.
Kohlberg scale ranking employees justify individual behavior. This theory essay will help in writing for psychology assignments or homework. So, here we have found out the importance of Kohlberg’s theory of moral development.

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