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Moral & Psychosocial Development Developing Morality Kohlberg (1981, 1984) sought to describe the development of moral reasoning by posing moral dilemmas to children and adolescents, such as “Should a person steal medicine to save a loved one’s life?” He found stages of moral development by studying the reasons why a decision or action was moral. Kohlberg’s “Heinz Dilemma” • 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 druggist 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 produce. He paid $200 for the radium and charged $2,000 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 about $1,000 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 Heinz got desperate and broke into the man’s store to steal the drug for his wife. Was Heinz moral or immoral in stealing the drug? WHY? 3 Basic Levels of Moral Thinking 1. 2. 3. Preconventional Morality: Before age 9, children show morality to avoid punishment or gain reward. Conventional Morality: By early adolescence, social rules and laws are upheld for their own sake. Postconventional Morality: Affirms people’s agreed-upon rights or follows personally perceived ethical principles. Kohlberg’s Moral Ladder Postconventional level Morality of abstract principles: to affirm agreed-upon rights and personal ethical principles Conventional level Morality of law and social rules: to gain approval or avoid disapproval Preconventional level Morality of self-interest: to avoid punishment or gain concrete rewards As moral development progresses, the focus of concern moves from the self to the wider social world. Source: Fig. 11-17, p. 440 Fig. 11-18, p. 441 Morality As our thinking matures, so does our behavior in that we become less selfish and more caring. People who engage in doing the right thing develop empathy for others and the selfdiscipline to resist their own impulses. Social Development Fig. 11-11, p. 431 References Myers, D.G. (2011). Myers’ psychology for AP. Holland, MI: Worth Publishers.