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Discuss Kohlberg's theory of Moral Development, use psychological evidence and refer to at least one other theory in your answer.

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Introduction

Discuss Kohlberg's theory of Moral Development, use psychological evidence and refer to at least one other theory in your answer Moral development in psychology is the study of how we form beliefs and acquire knowledge to determine what is wrong or right. It is also a study of how we apply these beliefs to our actions. Kohlberg is a prominent figure in moral development, his main focus in his investigation in to moral development was on our reasoning behind moral judgement rather than the judgments made. He believed that we develop moral reasoning during childhood and adolescence; it is not something we acquire in one big step. Like Piaget, Kohlberg chose to investigate the reasoning behind moral development, by using moral dilemmas. Kohlberg carried out a study with group of males, some of which he followed up 3 times over 20 years. He gave them a moral dilemma and questions designed by Heinz. ...read more.

Middle

A person at this stage would say "The man shouldn't steal the drug because stealing is wrong." The second stage in this level is Law and Order, in this stage we obey the law because we realise the laws are there to protect people and we do what we feel it is our duty to do. A person at this stage would say "the man should not steal the drug because it is against the law, the chemist would suffer and other people may need that medicine as well" The final level is the post-conventional level there are also two stages to this level however Kohlberg said that it is very rare that a person will reach the final stage. The first stage is the Social contract-legalistic, at this level the laws are respected however the person is aware that the laws can be changed by the majority and also that life and individual rights sometimes supersede the laws. ...read more.

Conclusion

Gilligan, a woman who worked with Kohlberg strongly disagreed and came up with her own theory which was the same as Kohlberg's however she said that women came from a different perspective than males. She said that females made judgements from a caring perspective whereas males made judgements from a justice perspective. These claims by Gilligan's were thwarted and also Kohlberg's initial claim the women were morally fragile when Kohlberg repeated his experiments, taking into account educational and occupational differences. He found no differences between males and females scores. Walker carried out an experiment with males and females, using both hypothetical and personal real life dilemmas and he found that it was the type of dilemma that determined the reasoning rather than the male and female differences Kohlberg's experiment can be heavily criticised, as the dilemma used was extreme and is not a regular occurrence in life and is therefore not ecologically valid however Walker's experiment on real life dilemma's did not conflict with what Kohlberg's theory stated other than his claim that women were morally fragile. Kirsty Mullowney Psychology Moral Development ...read more.

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Response to the question

This essay asks candidates to describe in detail Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development in Children, and then discuss (evaluate) the strengths and weaknesses, whilst referring to a second theory of development. The candidate retains consistent focus on the description and ...

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Response to the question

This essay asks candidates to describe in detail Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development in Children, and then discuss (evaluate) the strengths and weaknesses, whilst referring to a second theory of development. The candidate retains consistent focus on the description and the analysis of their answer, and as is expected, the candidate draws on many different sources and other pieces of research while answering their question. Instead of just one other theory, the candidate refers to at least two others, with a possible third is we include their comment on Rest, though an examiner may point out that Rest's study would require a few lines dedication just to colour in what he actually did, rather than just name-dropping him.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis is very good. The introductory paragraph is excellent and right there and then we see the candidate has a well-established understanding of the basis of Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development in Children and the study he conducted in order to retrieve this data. There is mentioning of it being cross-culturally replicated, but perhaps an explicit statement about this being a strength as the high concordance with each repeat of the experiment showed the results' reliability could give the candidate's answer further good points.
After the description of the study, there is an extremely well-detailed paragraph outlining the Theory, using the specialist terminology coined by Kohlberg himself such as "Obedience and Punishment" and "Post-conventional Morality", with brilliant examples of how a person operating at each level might view the Heinz Dilemma (the most famous moral dilemma that Kohlberg proposed to his participants).
The appreciation of other theories is very good - the second theory does not have to be so in depth as your first. The use of Gilligan's theory is good because it directly challenged Kohlberg even after she worked with him in developing his moral scale which she believed only pertained to males.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is fine. There are no worries or issues to be commented upon in this answer. It is very well-written, well-structured and well-informed.


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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 24/02/2012

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