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Kohlberg and Gilligan: Theories of Moral Development

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Kohlberg and Gilligan: Theories of Moral Development. Jordan and Micah Gempel. Kohlberg. Born October 25, 1927 in Bronxville, New York, died January 19, 1987 Attended Phillips Academy After graduation, joined Merchant Marines Joined Haganah

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Presentation Transcript
  • Born October 25, 1927 in Bronxville, New York, died January 19, 1987
  • Attended Phillips Academy
  • After graduation, joined Merchant Marines
  • Joined Haganah
  • "The Holocaust is the event in human history that most bespeaks the need for moral education and for a philosophy that can guide it. My own interest in morality and moral education arose in part as a response to the Holocaust, an event so enormous that it often fails to provoke a sense of injustice in many individuals and societies." -Kohlberg
  • Enrolled in University of Chicago in 1948
  • Received Doctorate degree from University of Chicago in 1958
  • Professor at Yale University from 1959-1961
  • Taught at University of Chicago in 1962
  • In 1968 taught at Harvard University
kohlberg s theory
Kohlberg’s Theory
  • Developed a stage theory of moral development, based upon Piaget
  • Kohlberg’s Research
    • Sample of 72 boys, ages 10, 13, and 16
    • Gave them dilemmas—ex: Heinz Dilemma
    • Not interested in “yes” or “no” answers, but the reason behind the answer.
kohlberg s stages
Kohlberg’s Stages
  • Level I: Preconventional Morality
    • Stage 1: Obedience and Punishment Orientation
    • Stage 2: Individualism and Exchange
  • Level II: Conventional Morality
    • Stage 3: Good Interpersonal Relationships
    • Stage 4: Maintaining the Social Order
  • Level III: Postconventional Morality
    • Stage 5: Social Contract and Individual Rights
    • Stage 6: Universal Principles
On Nature/Nurture Debate:
  • Kohlberg claims that progression through his stages is not genetic, but it is not a product of socialization either, so…
  • Kohlberg argues that his stages emerge from one’s own thinking about moral problems…
  • So, we believe Kohlberg falls in the middle of the nature/nurture line.
important terms
Important Terms
  • Qualitative Differences
  • Structured Wholes
  • Invariant Sequences
  • Hierarchic Integrations
  • Universal Sequences
definitions of morality
Definitions of Morality
  • Kohlberg defines morality as a natural product of a universal tendency towards empathy or role taking—putting self in shoes of another. It is a universal concern for justice.
  • Gilligan defines morality as the realm of how one decides/resolves conflicts (conflicts between personal desires and social things/desires of self versus of another person/people). Morality is concerned with responsibilities, obligations, and values.
carol gilligan
Carol Gilligan
  • Born November 28, 1936
  • Received Bachelors Degree from Swarthmore College
  • Received master's degree in clinical psychology from Radcliffe College,
  • Received Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard University
  • Best known for book, In a Different Voice
gilligan s position
Gilligan’s Position
  • Gilligan was a associate of Kohlberg at Harvard.
  • Criticized Kohlberg’s work as biased against girls and women.
  • Males’ moral thought leans towards justice
  • Females’ moral thought leans towards care
  • So, woman will score lower on Kohlberg’s scale
    • Woman tend to score within stage 3, and men score in stages 4 and 5
gilligan s stage theory
Gilligan’s Stage Theory
  • Preconventional: Individual Survival
    • Then, a transition is made from selfishness to responsibility
  • Conventional: Self sacrifice is goodness
    • Then, transition from goodness to truth, that she is a person too.
  • Postconventional: Principle of nonviolence, do not hurt self or others
our research project
Our Research Project
  • Problem: Overall, does gender play a role in how a child develops ideas of morality?
    • Do men and women score differently on Kohlberg’s scale—Girls scoring lower, men higher?
    • Does Gilligan’s theory of moral orientations prove plausible—do men gravitate toward the justice approach and women toward the care approach?
  • Based on our research, we believe that girls will score lower than boys on Kohlberg’s scale. Also, we predict that men will gravitate towards a justice-based approach when confronted with a moral dilemma, while woman take a more caring and compassionate based approach.
  • Gave surveys to teacher’s at North Hills to give to students.
  • Our participants ages ranged from 13-18
  • We were able to survey 57 students, 26 girls, 31 boys
G.Dilemma Circle: male female Age: _____
  • A man’s wife was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. The drug was expensive to make, and the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to make. He paid $400 for the drug and charged $4,000 for a small dose of the drug. The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money and tried every legal means, but he could only get together about $2,000, which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying, and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said, "No, I discovered the drug and I'm going to make money from it." So, having tried every legal means, Heinz gets desperate and considers breaking into the man's store to steal the drug for his wife.
  • Should Heinz steal the drug? Why or Why not?
  • Is it right or wrong for him to steal the drug? Why or Why not?
  • What if the person dying is not his wife but a stranger. Should Heinz steal the drug for the stranger? Why or why not?
  • Should people try to do everything they can to obey the law? Why or why not?
  • What would you do if you were Heinz, and why?
analyzing results
Analyzing Results
  • G. Rating System
  • Points are given based on the child’s response to why or why not Heinz should steal the drug.
  • 1 point is given if the child’s reasoning in their response is based upon:
  • A. Consequences/ Punishment
  • Ex: Heinz should not steal the drug because he will be arrested.
  • B. Authority does/ does not permit it
  • Ex: Heinz should not steal the drug because it is against the law.
  • 2 points given if the child’s reasoning is based upon:
  • Pursuing one’s individual interests (what is beneficial to you alone)
  • Ex: Heinz should not steal it because he would rather not be in prison for a long time.
  • The druggist was unfair so Heinz can be act unfair in return and steal the drug.
  • 3 points given if the child’s reasoning involves:
  • Motives or character traits
  • Ex: The druggist is greedy so it is okay for Heinz to steal the drug.
  • -Heinz loves his wife and can’t see her die so it is okay for him to steal the drug.
  • 4 points given if the child’s reasoning concerns:
  • Society as a whole
  • Ex: Heinz’s intentions are good but he cannot break the law because he feels it is the right thing to do.
  • 5 points given if the response emphasizes both:
  • A. The Social Contract
  • Ex: Emphasis that unfair laws should be changed to benefit society.
  • B. Individual Rights
  • Ex: Life is more valuable then property.
results male
Results: Male



female results
Female Results



  • Our hypothesis was incorrect
  • Slightly more males in stages 4 and 5, but overall barely any difference.
  • Same amounts of boys and girls in Stage 3
  • Overall, females did not score lower than males.
  • Also, since equal numbers of male and females fell into stage 3, we were unable to conclude if men gravitate towards the justice approach; woman towards the care approach.
  • We wanted to replicate the ages Kohlberg used in his study, but we could not survey any 10 year olds.
    • Then, had to modify hypothesis.
  • Some students did not take survey seriously.
    • Ex: Q: What would you do if you were Heinz?
    • A: “If I were Heinz I would create Heinz Ketchup and make millions and buy the store.”
  • We were not present to administer survey
  • Problems identifying which stage the person was in