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Moral Development Theory

Lawrence Kohlberg based his theory off of the work of Piaget’s Theory of Moral Development. Kohlberg used stories to set up a moral questions and then asked people how they would respond to a difficult moral situation. Heinz Dilemma is one of Kohlberg’s best-known moral development theory story. After reading the story, Kohlberg asked participants several questions about Heinz’ actions and what he should or should not do.

Moral Development Theory

In the study of Heinz Dilemma, Heinz looked at a sample of 72 boys from Chicago that ranged from 10 years to 16 years old. A group of 58 boys were tracked over the course of 20 years as a means of collecting data. The experiment required the boys to go through a 2-hour interview with questions on ten moral dilemmas. The study was not about the simple right or wrong answer, but instead it was about the thinking and reasoning that went into their response. Through the study, Heinz was able to identify three levels and 2 sublevels of moral reasoning.

Level 1 is named the Pre-conventional morality. On average the participants at this level are around the age of nine years old. This level shows that children at this age do not have their own established moral code that they live by. Instead, adults and consequences are what shape a person’s actions. Two stages exist within this level. The fist is Obedience and Punishment Orientation and the second stage is Individualism and Exchange.

In level 2, participants ranged in age from adolescents to adults. In this stage, people take the cues from the people around them that they see
as a role model.

The final level is the Post-conventional morality. At this level people chose their own principals and moral decisions are base on what is seen as just.

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