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Kohlberg’s Theory and His Critics

Kohlberg’s Theory and His Critics

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Kohlberg’s Theory and His Critics

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  1. Kohlberg’s Theory and His Critics Stephanie Sohl November 18, 2004

  2. Moral development is the development of moral judgment Kohlberg’s Theory: 3 levels each with two stages based on the reasons interviewees gave in response to moral dilemmas key concept: internalization the developmental change from behavior that is externally controlled to behavior that is internally controlled Moral Development

  3. “In Europe a woman was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that a druggest in the same town had recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to make. He paid $200 for the radium and charged $2000 for a small dose of the drug. The sick woman’s husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could only get together $1000 which is half of what it cost. He told the druggest 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 am going to make money from it.’ So Heinz got desperate and broke into the man’s store to seal the drug for his wife.” Participants would then be asked, “should Heinz have stolen the drug? Was stealing right or wrong? Why? Example of a Moral Dilemma

  4. Level One: Preconventional Reasoning (before age 9) No internalization, controlled by external rewards and punishments Stage 1- Punishment and obedience orientation Stage 2 – Individualism and purpose Kohlberg’s Theory

  5. Level Two: Conventional Reasoning (early adolescence) Internalization is intermediate, person abides by certain internal standards, these standards belong to others (parents, laws) Stage 3 – Interpersonal norms Stage 4 – Social system morality Most people (about 90% of the population) do not develop past stage 4 Kohlberg’s Theory

  6. Level Three: Postconventional Reasoning (does not appear until around age 20, only 10% of individuals reach these stages) Morality is completely internalized Stage 5 – Community rights versus individual rights Stage 6 – Universal ethical principals Stage 6 was recently removed from the Kohlberg scoring manual, but is still considered theoretically important. Kohlberg’s Theory

  7. Critique 1: Too much emphasis on moral thought and not enough on moral behavior Critique 2: Underestimated the contribution of family relationships Critique 3: Does not adequately reflect relationships and concern for others Critique 4: His theory is culturally biased/not universal Critique 5: Stage theories in general are not adequate to explain moral development Critiques of Kohlberg’s Theory

  8. Too much emphasis on moral thought and not enough on moral behavior Theories, such as the four-component model by Rest in 1986, have since been developed to further explain moral behavior (Walker, 2002) Critique 1

  9. Underestimated the contribution of family relationships He is considered neutral on this topic Does not view the family to be critical in a child’s development Does not consider there to be evidence of the family being a “uniquely necessary setting” (Reimer, 1993) Parental discipline contributes to children’s development Other aspects, such as providing opportunities for perspective taking and modeling moral behavior and thinking also influence moral development (Santrock, 1999) Critique 2

  10. Does not adequately reflect relationships and concern for others Justice perspective – focuses on right of the individual (Kohlberg) Care perspective – views people in terms of their connectedness with others (Carol Gilligan) Male vs. Female Careful review of literature revealed that Kohlberg’s scoring system does not show sex bias (Rest, 1986) No strong support for a linkage between moral orientation and gender (Nucci, 2002) Western vs. Eastern Critique 3

  11. American versions of not acting individualistic Conformity – lines (Asch, 1956) Obedience – shock experiment (Milgram, 1974) Adherence to roles – prison experiment (Haney, Banks, & Zimbardo, 1973) Bystander effect (Latanee & Darley, 1970) Indian caste system as not entirely an interdependent network Hierarchy is made of duties and roles; however those who are in higher castes have personal entitlements and independence in relation to others Leads to some hidden activities Critique 3 (cont.)

  12. His theory is culturally biased does not recognize higher- level reasoning in certain culture groups, especially those that do not emphasize individual rights Examples: Kibbutz response (Israel) Collective happiness principal which was missing from Kohlberg’s theoretical model (Snarey, 1985) Critique 4

  13. His measures and stage theories in general are not adequate to explain moral development Scoring for Kohlberg’s stages may depend on what the person is thinking about (Kagan & Lamb, 1987) Study by Austin, Ruble and Trabasso (1977) moral judgments were affected by the order in which intentions and consequences were presented no age difference when they controlled for retention of information explanation of different stages of thinking could be a result of recency effects Kohberg did not make the dilemmas as “spare” as they could be Critique 5

  14. Kohlberg’s Stages: The stages are not consistent. A majority of subjects in Kohlberg’s studies show a stage mixture (Rest, 1986). Since the stage definitions were revised, the upper stages have become rare or non-existent (Rest, 1986). Cognitive development shows evidence of stage-like change and consistency, at the same time demonstrating individual differences (Fischer & Silvern, 1985). Critique 5

  15. Dichotomy between organismic and mechanistic approaches: Piaget/Kohlberg (Organismic): stages have a uniform structure variations can only speed up development through the same sequence. = single end point. + provides criterion for finding similarities comparing development across contexts - When outcomes that are effective in their own contexts do not fit the specific end point, their effectiveness is ignored and they are categorized as immature (Fischer & Silvern, 1985) Critique 5 (cont.)

  16. Mechanistic approaches focus on individual differences no structural endpoint no straightforward criterion to judge developmental status, measured by achievements of specific functions + cognitive differences can be compared across cultures as qualitatively different and their maturity is not ranked - no basis for comparison or consideration of cognitive maturity Critique 5 (cont.)

  17. Competence/performance models have proposed a reconciliation: Competence = structure of the mind Performance = variability in function from environmental influences Reconciliation

  18. Context is effective when an organism can understand and respond Scaffolding: adults provide children with specific environmental support they need for accomplishing a task A person has no single ability, but a zone of proximal development/needs environmental support Reconciliation (cont.)

  19. Stages and individual differences can be Integrated: Consensus on Levels When behavior is categorized abstractly, most people will be seen to develop through the same sequence (Fischer & Slivern, 1985). Reconciliation

  20. Stems from Kohlberg’s ideas Focus on the individual’s attempt to make sense of his/her own social experience Generated from results using the Defining Issues Test from the University of Minnesota DIT measure is a device for activating moral schemas DIT is group-administered, multiple-choice, and mechanically scored (Rest, Narvaez, Thoma & Bebeau, 2000) A Neo-Kohlbergian Approach

  21. Some notable adjustments : Use schemas instead of stages – shifting distributions rather than as a staircase Schema = top-down, fill in information where information is ambiguous Universality – regards cross-cultural similarity as a question rather than a characteristic of these stages Postconventional thinking is not as rare with this measure A Neo-Kohlbergian Approach

  22. Personal Interest Schema (analogous to Kohlberg’s stages 2 and 3) until age 12 does not yet use a sociocentric perspective DIT research does not cover this schema Maintaining Norms Schema (stage 4) perceived need for generally accepted social norms to govern a collective, necessity that the norms apply society-wide, the need for the norms to be clear, uniform, and categorical, the establishment of hierarchical role structures Post conventional schema (stages 5+6) Moral obligations are to be based on shared ideals, are fully reciprocal, and open to scrutiny (Rest et. al, 2000) Structures in Moral Thinking Development

  23. Kohlberg’s theory is widely used and has many critics Many of these critiques are based on unincorporated aspects of morality development Competence/performance models and the Neo-Kohlbergian approach attempt to compensate for these discrepancies Summary

  24. Austin, V. D., Ruble, D. N., Trabasso, T. (1977). Recall and order effects as factors in children’s moral judgments. Child Development, 48, 470-474. Fischer, K. W. & Silvern, L. (1985). Sates and individual differences in cognitive development. Annual Reviews, 36, 613-48. Kagan, J. & Lamb, S. (Eds.). (1987). The emergence of morality in young children. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press. Nucci, L. P. (2002). The development of morality. In U. Goswami (Ed.), Blackwell handbook of Childhood Cognitive Development (303-325). Malden, MA: Blackwell. Reimer, J. (1993). The case of the missing family: Kohlberg and the study of adolescent moral development. In A. Garrod (Ed.), Approaches to moral development: New research and emerging themes (pp.91-102). New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Rest, J. R., Narvaez, D., Thoma, S. J., Bebeau, M. J. (2000). A neo-Kohlbergian approach to morality research. Journal of Moral Education, 29(4), 381-395. Rest, J. R. (1986). Moral research methodology. In S. Modgil & C. Modgil (Eds.), Lawrence Kohlberg: Consensus and controversy (pp.455-469). Philadelphia, PA: Falmer Press. Santrock, J. W. (Ed.). (1999). Life-span development: Seventh edition. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill College. Snarey, J. R. (1985). Cross-cultural universality of social-moral development: A critical review of Kohlbergian research. Psychological Bulletin, 97(2), 202-232. Turiel, E. (1998). The development of morality. In W. Damon & N. Eisenberg (Eds.), Handbook of Child Psychology: Fifth Edition (pp. 863-932). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Walker, L. J. (2002). The model and the measure: an appraisal of the Minnesota approach to moral development. Journal of Moral Education 31(3), 353-367. References/Suggested Readings

  25. Becca Laptook Samantha Katz Bianca Acevedo Reviewers