Download Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development Level 1 – Pre-conventional

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Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development
Level 1 – Pre-conventional
This level is generally found when people are first born through the elementary
school level. Generally on this level, morality is seen as something given to each
person by society. Right and wrong are determined by authority.
Stage 1: Obedience and Punishment
 Morality is handed down from powerful authority figures.
 People behave according to socially acceptable rules because they are told so
and don’t want to be punished.
 Question: Will I be punished for my choice?
Stage 2: Individualism and Exchange
 Right behavior means acting in your own best interests.
 Morality is relative, up to each person (Moral relativism)
 People exchange favors but there is no real sense of deeper values, family or
 Question: Is this choice good for me? Will it benefit me in some way?
Level 2 – Conventional Morality
This level generally develops in the early-mid teen years. Kohlberg theorized that
most people stay at this level throughout their lives and don’t progress past stage 4.
There is a big emphasis on what is good for the group, society at large.
Stage 3: Good girl/boy or Interpersonal Stage
 This stage is generally about seeking the approval and acceptance of others
 People should behave in ways that are acceptable to family and community.
There is a focus on other individuals.
 Good behavior means having good motives like doing something out of love,
empathy, trust or concern for others.
 Question: What will others think of me from my decision?
Stage 4: Law and Order or Social Order Stage
 This stage is primarily concerned with society as a whole.
 Emphasizes respecting authority, obeying laws and performing
responsibilities, which help society to run smoothly.
 It’s not just about having good motives but looking at precedents that would
be set for allowing certain actions.
 Question: What is the law? What example will my decision set?
Level 3: Post-conventional
Kohlberg theorized that most adults never reach this level because it takes a certain
level of understanding and moral maturity. This level isn’t just about maintaining
order in society but thinking about what makes a good society since not all societies
are moral. It’s also very focused on the consequences and impact decisions will
have not just for society at large but for each individual.
Stage 5: Social Contract and Rights
 Believes that a good society is based on social contract or agreement that
people choose to participate in. We must work for the common good of all.
 Recognizes that although people have different values, all people also should
have certain basic rights that must be upheld.
 Laws and rules are necessary, but there should be certain fair and democratic
procedures to change or adjust laws and improve society.
 People make independent judgments on which values society should have,
they don’t look to rely on a group for this.
 Question: How can everyone’s needs be met?
Stage 6: Universal Principles and Conscience
 Making decisions based on universal values and truths like compassion and
 Seeks to respect the dignity of all people and treat all people fairly with no
bias. It means doing what is truly best for others.
 A rule or law can be broken in society to promote a value or a fair principle
(civil disobedience).
 Question: Does this choice uphold or violate any of the universal principles?