Development & Conflict Resolution
Theories of Moral
principles are concerned with justice, fairness and
equity and determine acceptable behaviour. To date,
moral development theories have derived from three
significant theories of social development:
discussion of the contribution of these theories to
understanding of moral development will focus on the work
of four individuals who were significant in the
development of the respective theories.
first important theory of human emotional development was
proposed by Sigmund Freud as psychoanalytic theory.
In his 1905 publication 'Three Contributions to the
Theory of Sex' he proposed that adult personality and
behaviour was determined by experiences in the first 5
years of life.
the phallic stage - the third of five proposed
stages - Freud proposed that through identification with
the same sex parent, children adopt society's moral
values as represented by that parent. This stage was
generally thought to correspond with the 3-6 years age
period. The theory suggests that children see the same
sex parent as a competitior for the other parent's
affection but this conflict is resolved by 'becoming
like' or identifying with the same sex parent.The
superego is said to develop from the child's adoption of
psychoanalytic theory suggests that children behave
morally because they have internalised the values they
believe their same sex parent to hold or to avoid
feelings of guilt inflicted by the conscience after
transgression. The theory suggested that moral
development was a process of socialization.
most prominent research in Social Learning Theory
was the work of Albert Bandura in the early 1960s at
Stanford University in California. The theory emphasised
the importance of adult reinforcement and imitation in
earliest work suggested that modelled behaviour is
learnt and adopted by children through
observation. Motivation to adopt behaviours
occurs through external reinforcement in the form
of verbal encouragement or token reward; vicarious
reinforcement in the form of a favourable or
appealing model; and self reinforcement usually
through verbal statement. Thus, moral behaviour is learnt
through direct reinfircement and observation.
did, however emphasise that behaviour cannot be
understood without an understanding of mental activity.
Research generated by Bandura's work focused on the
efficacy of different child-rearing methods for the
internalization of moral values.
Piaget published 'The Moral Judgement of the Child in
1932' emphasising the way in which children construct
morality. Moral thought and construction is the means by
which cognitive developmentalists' approach the
development of moral thinking. He asserted that a moral
act was based on a conscious judgement.
broadly between the ages of 2 and 8. Children
respond to rules as sacred and unchanging and judge a
behaviour on the basis of its consequences so that
behaviour followed by a negative consequence.
of Cooperation and Reciprocity
from the age of 8 until 12. Children see rules as
maintained through social agreement and so can be
modified. Rightness is determined by the subject's
intention rather than the outcome or consequence.
Punishment is no longer viewed as arbitrary and
obligations are perfromed in response to other's welfare
and the ability to put oneself in another's place.
Kohlberg began in the late 1960s to outline six stages of
moral development and extend those of Piaget into
adolescence and adulthood and draw on people's response
to moral dilemnas. Like Piaget, Kohlberg is a member of
the congnitive development school of thought. He
views moral thinking as part of a sequence which also
includes logical thought development and the ability to
view a situation from other's perspective.
Piaget share the belief that logical thinking has
priority and precedes moral development so that advanced
moral reasoning is only possible with advanced cognitive
reasoning. Kohlberg's first two levels correspond loosely
with those of Piaget.
responsive to cultural rules and labels of good and bad
but interpret these in terms of consequence and the power
of the rule enforcer.
expectations and rules are valued irrespective of
consequence. Conformity and loyalty to order and the
identified society are valued.
and principles are defined irrespective of society's
expectations and the values of the group to which a