Conservation and Moral Development:. Are they related? . Jean Piaget Developmental Psychologist. August 9, 1896 – September 16, 1980 Age 10 : published article on albino sparrow Age 21: PhD in natural sciences 1929-1939 : Research resulted in Stage Theory of cognitive development .
Conservation and Moral Development:
Are they related?
Birth- 2 years
Ages 11 +
Egocentrism: the inability to distinguish the symbolic viewpoints of others from one’s own.
Centration: the tendency to focus on one aspect of a situation to the neglect of other important features.
States rather than Transformations: the final stages in a tendency to treat the initial and
problem as completely unrelated.
Irreversibility: the inability to mentally reverse a series of steps.
Children should not be able to conserve liquids at this stage according to Piaget.
Limitations: Children think in an organized, logical fashion only when dealing with concrete information they can directly perceive.
For our study, we worked with 12 students, ages 4-7 at a Montessori school in Arkansas. We hypothesized that these students, being particularly bright, would be able to “conserve” at an earlier age than is typical given Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. In order to test this hypothesis, we performed a water conservation task with each child. We will later connect these results with Kohlberg’s theory of moral development.Our results are as follows….
It is interesting to note that both Mary Claire and Tom who should not be able to conserve have older siblings (7 year olds) who can. Perhaps having older siblings makes a difference? But this would be another study all together…
Back to our hypothesis:
Two children were able to conserve at the ages of 5 and 6, an unlikely occurrence according to Piaget. Now we would like to see if these same children who can conserve are able to think through a Kohlberg-style moral dilemma from multiple sides. Also according to Piaget, children under the age of seven will exemplify egocentrism and centration; an inability to think beyond their own viewpoint and also an inability to focus on more than one aspect of a problem. We hypothesized that children at this school would be able to think through a moral dilemma at a more advanced level, even under the age of seven, despite egocentrism and centration.
When George told the king that it was a dragon stealing the food at night, the king became very angry. “He may not be dangerous, but he is stealing some of our food which is against the law and the village might go hungry. He might scare the people, too! He must be locked up.” So that night, George did as he was told and caught the dragon with a huge lasso and led him to a cave where he was locked up night and day……
Once upon a time there lived a king and his daughter who was a princess. They lived happily in their kingdom until they realized that there was a thief stealing food from the marketplace but they had no idea who it was. So the King asked George, the bravest knight in the kingdom, to keep watch at night to see if he could spot the thief. He would soon find out that the food-stealer was none other than a big, scaly dragon.
But we haven’t heard the dragon’s side of the story. The dragon didn’t like being called scary or scaly and was actually very kind. He really loved people and would never hurt anyone. He didn’t like to steal food from the kingdom but his family was hungry and there were no more fish in the lakes for him to catch since the king had already
scooped them all up for himself and the people in his kingdom. He didn’t know what else to do to feed his wife and baby dragons, so he thought he had to sneak into the kingdom and take only a little bit of the king’s food.
Stage 3Interpersonal Relationships
Mason: “Yes and no. Because he was trying to feed the other dragons and he would never hurt anyone. But it was against the law, too. Why not share the food? It’s kind of confusing because he was doing both good and bad.”
Maria: “No. Because he was trying to feed his family and he didn’t want to hurt anyone. They should share.”
Madilyn: “Yes and no. He did steal the food and that was wrong but he had to take the food because he could not feed his family. He thought the dragon was mean and George was just doing what he was told.”
Emily: “Yes and no. He shouldn’t have stolen the food but he was right to help his family. The king was wrong to lock him up and shouldn’t have taken all of the fish in the first place. They should all share.”
Stage 4Maintaining social order
Stage 5Social contract and individual rights
Ayva: “Yes… but then again, the dragon was nice so kind of both. It was right because he was stealing; it was their food and it was against the law. But he was good and he wouldn’t have harmed any person. They had nothing to eat so of course they had to steal to feed his family.”
Stage 3Interpersonal Relationships
Mary Claire: “No because the dragon was nice and he didn’t have any food. I don’t think it was good to tell George to lock up the dragon because he was a nice dragon.”
Stage 5Individual Rights
Alex: “No.” Then said, “Yes.” He kept saying, “Call the cops!” during the story. “The dragon was nice but he was stealing food”(Said he would rather be George’s friend than the dragon’s because the dragon was stealing food).
Stage 4Maintaining Social Order
Stage 4:Maintaining Social Order
Glenna (4): “Yes. Because George went off to get the dragon and took him into the cave. You see here the dragon got food, not good. The dragon was scaring everyone.”
Kannady(4): “No. Because he was nice. But it was against the law to take the food. He should have found another way to get food.”
Tom (5): “No. He could have just told the dragon to stop stealing the food. But wasn’t right of the dragon to take the food because the village might starve.”
Landon (5): “No. Because he was friendly. It was right of him to steal the food because he needed to feed his family.”
Stage 3:Relationships/ Empathy
Stage 5:Individual Rights