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Describe and discuss Eisenbergs and Damons theories of moral development

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Describe and discuss Eisenbergs and Damons theories of moral development (12 marks) Eisenberg and Damon both developed their own theories on moral development. Eisenberg investigated pro-social moral reasoning whilst Damon investigated distributive justice. Eisenberg stated that there were five levels for pro-social moral reasoning; hedonistic orientation, needs orientation, approval orientation, self reflective orientation and internalised orientation. In hedonistic orientation, helping is only likely if it will benefit oneself. In needs orientation it depends how strong the needs of others are. In approval orientation help is only likely is only likely if other people see it as praiseworthy where as in self reflective orientation evidence of sympathy is shown and guilt for not helping. Finally, in the internalised orientation level helping is justified with reference to the child's own values and there is also a sense of responsibility. ...read more.


For example 'I wouldn't help because I would miss the party'. Eisenberg claimed this was hedonistic reasoning. Gradually children displayed needs orientated reasoning. For example, 'I'd help because she would feel better'. Although this study has supported Eisenbergs theory it has both its strengths and limitation. The story used in the study was a moral dilemma. This may have resulted in inaccurate results as answers may not reflect what the participants may do in a real life situation. It therefore lacks ecological validity. He also used interviews as his method this meant the answers obtained were subjective and therefore difficult to interpret. But on the other hand using interviews resulted in detailed answers, which allowed Eisenberg to gain more information. This was an independent measures study as participants only took part in one task. ...read more.


These drawings earned a lot of money, and the class has to decide how to divide the money. The children were interviewed and their responses were recorded. From his study Damon concluded that as children get older, reasoning about distributive justice moves from emphasis on self gratification to focus on individual merit and other's needs. Overall, Damon's research on justice and fairness has provided a different perspective to the body of research into moral development. His findings have also been replicated in other cultures, including Israel, Puerto Rico and Europe. His research was also based on dilemmas that are within children's everyday experience which therefore results in high ecological validity. But on the other hand the painting dilemmas are still hypothetical so may still not reflect how children would really share in a real life situation which means finding may have little predictive validity. I believe both Eisenberg have developed good theories about moral development as they have backed them up with relevant supporting evidence. ...read more.

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