Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory

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Over the years, the question has been raised on how the people developed morals? Lawrence Kohlberg (1969) uses his ideas to extend Piaget’s (1932) theory of development and lay down the groundwork for the current debate of psychology in regards to the continual processing of moral. He uses Piaget storytelling techniques to illustrate the moral dilemma, for examples, the rights of authority and individual who is being unfairly treated and the best one Heinz dilemma (Sanders, 2018).

According to Kohlberg, moral development is a continual process that occurs throughout the lifetime. Recent, Kohlberg theory was criticized due to its western-centric approach based on upper and middle-class values. In this article, certain aspects of Kohlberg moral development theory is highlighted proposing his research work.

Kohlberg Stages Of Moral Development

Kohlberg explained the three stages of moral developments within three different levels. Each level represents the fundamental shift in the social-moral perspective of the person

  • The pre-conventional level or at the first level, moral characters of person is characterized by concrete and individual perspective. Stage 1 heteronomous orientation of this level focuses on avoiding the physical consequences of property and breaking rules backed by punishment. Stage 1 reasoning of Piaget’s framework is considered as egocentrism and inability of defining the perspective of other persons. Stage 2 orientation is focused on the practical value of an action. In this stage what is right or wrong is evaluated and understanding the conflicts of person that they pursue (Mathes 2019).
  • At a conventional layer, individual get a basic understanding of conventional morality and norms necessary to uphold the society. In this level, at Stage 3 individual are aware of shared feelings, social expectation and their roles. It emphasizes on the conformity and being nice also on consideration how influences the choices in relationships. Within this layer, Stage 4 determines the shift of norms from defining what is right or wrong to legal social systems.  According to assignment help experts, This also focuses on maintaining and ordering the law of one’s duty and respective authority.
  • At the post-conventional layer, individual judgement is defined in terms of values and principles. People now become able to distinguish between judgement and ask for reformation. Two stages represented at this level whereas Stage 5 promotes the general welfare when necessary to meet the goods and services demand (Cheery 2019). Here Lawrence considered as social contracts rather than rigid norms. It has been suggested by assignment helper, democratic government is theoretically based on this stage. In Stage 6, moral reasoning is based on equality, respect and dignity. People choose to follow the ethical principle and somehow they disobey the principle, they feel guilty.
                                   Stage  Orientation
Stage 1Obedience and Punishment Orientation
Stage 2Instrumental Orientation
Stage 3Good Behaviour Orientation
Stage 4Law and Order Orientation
Stage 5Social and Contract Orientation
Stage 6Ethical and Principle Orientation


Kohlberg is criticized due to several reasons as there is a large difference between what we ought to do and what we do. Some critics designated as a codification of the western notion of morality and justice. In the given below section, essay typer have discussed the major critics Kohlberg moral development theory has been facing till now.

  • Like Piaget’s theory, Kohlberg attempted to develop moral theories on his own beliefs seems to be psychological facts. Certain moral and political cultures may not believe in these principles. They have pointed it as overemphasized concepts of moral and justice. Factors like compassion, caring and interpersonal feelings also play a major role in developing theories which are not included (Gibbs 2019).
  • Most of the concepts of the Kohlberg is applicable only at the person below 16 years as they have no experience of marriage. For example, the Heinz dilemma described by him may have to abstracts that could be defined only that time and if it is applied in a daily scenario, it may lead to different outcomes (Baldwin, 2018).
  • Kohlberg theory was gender-biased, women considered to be deficient in moral reasoning. His theory was narrowly researched on the upper-classmen and boy. He instantly argued girls and women focused on developing interpersonal relationship.
  • Kohlberg emphasized on justice rather than values providing the arguments of those who value moral aspects of others. Several critics argued Kohlberg stages are culturally biased and more western-centric that place less attention on individual needs.
  • There is another criticism demonstrating injustice in moral inconsistency. This often occurs in the moral dilemma such as drinking typical shown lower development stages. Further many online essay help experts accepted Kohlberg theory is not accounting the inconsistency using more self-interest driven reasoning. In case you need to submit assignments or seeking assignment assistance on Kohlberg moral development theory, then SourceEssay is giving round the clock assistance for your essay, assignments, research paper and any other coursework.


Lawrence Kohlberg who expanded the work of Piaget to explain the moral development in children derives cognitive development via series and stages. He uses the moral dilemma presenting conflicting views to teach children of 10-16 years about morality and values. After reviewing the dilemma he placed the people responses in different stages and level. The first level defines the moral characters of a person which is characterized by concrete and individual perspective. It consists of stage 1 and stage 2 for understanding the conflicts of person. At the conventional level, individual get a basic understanding of conventional morality and norms where stage 3 and 4 defines the shift of norms. At post, conventional layer individual judgment is defined in terms of values and principles where stage 5 and 6 considered law as social contracts rather than rigid norms. Some of the criticisms are also associated with the theory like many critics considered it gender-biased, some said it is law centric rather values. If you want to know fine details of Kohlberg moral development of theory, then SourceEssay based assignment helper is always ready to provide complete assistance to students anytime.



Cheery. K(2019) Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development, data retrieved from-


Gibbs, J. C. (2019). Moral development and reality: Beyond the theories of Kohlberg, Hoffman, and Haidt. Oxford University Press.

Mathes, E. W. (2019). An evolutionary perspective on Kohlberg’s theory of moral development. Current Psychology, 1-14.

Sanders, C. E. (2018). Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development PSYCHOLOGY. Encyclopedia Britannica.

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