Kohlberg’s Theory Of Moral Development(Ctet Notes)

Lawrence Kohlberg

About Kohlberg’s

  • Lawrence Kohlberg born in 1927 and grew up in Bronxville, New York. He Died on January 17th, 1987 at the age of 59 .
  • He was an American psychologist.He served as a professor in: – the Psychology Department at the University of Chicago – and at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.
  • Kohlberg became a professor of education and social psychology at Harvard in 1968 . His book on moral development is used by teachers around the world to promote moral reasoning.
  • Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development constitute an adaptation of a psychological theory originally conceived by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget.

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Moral Development is an aspect of a person’s overall development that follows over the course of a lifetime. Moral Development is growth and, like all growth, it takes place according to a pre-determined sequence.

The moral development of an individual’s concept of:

  • right or wrong,
  • conscience,
  • religious values,
  • social attitudes,
  • and certain behavior.


  • This theory is a stage theory. In other words, everyone goes through the stages sequentially without skipping any stage.
  • He defined moral development as the development of an individuals sense of justice.
  • Assessed moral reasoning by posing hypothetical moral dilemmas and examining the reasoning behind people’s answers. In other words test of moral judgment was done by asking some set of questions involving moral dilemmas
  • Proposed three distinct of moral reasoning: Pre- conventional, Conventional, and Post- conventional.
Kohlberg's theory of moral development

Story – Heinz steals the Drug

👉What are the six stages of kohlberg’s theory of moral development?

Kohlberg’s theory proposes six specific stages of moral development in his theory –

  • Obedience &Punishment orientation
  • Individualism & Exchange
  • Good Interpersonal Relationship
  • Maintaining Social order
  • Social contract and Individual rights
  • Universal Ethical principle
👉What are the 3 levels of Kohlberg’s theory of moral development?

Kohlberg’s theory of moral development are proposed three distinct of moral reasoning – Pre- conventional, Conventional, and Post- conventional.

Kohlberg’s theory three level and six stages of moral development.

Level 1 – Premoral or Pre -conventional morality (age-4 to 10)

Pre-conventional morality
  • Standard of measuring morality are those of others
  • He talks judgement either to avoid punishment or to get reward.

Stage 1- Obedience &Punishment orientation (How can I avoid punishment?) 

  • Child’s morality is controlled by fear of punishments
  • Powerful authorities hand down a fixed set of rule which should be followed.
  • EXAMPLE: Heinz shouldn’t steal the drug because he’d go to jail if he got caught.

Stage 2- Individualism & Exchange (What’s in it for me?) 

  • Now they understand that there is not just one right view that is handed down just one right view that is handed down by the authorities
  • Different individuals have different view points.
  • Children’s moral judgment is based on self-interest and consideration of what others can do for then in exchange or return.
  • EXAMPLE: Heinz should steal the drug because the druggist is being greedy by charging so much.

Level 2 – Conventional morality (age – 10 to 13)

Conventional morality

Children moral judgment is controlled by the likes or dislike of others. The conventions , rules and regulation and the law and order system maintained with in society.

Stage 3- Good Interpersonal Relationship  (Social norms (The good boy/girl attitude) 

  • Child’s moral judgment is based on the desire to obtain approval of others and avoid being disliked by being declared a good boy or good girl.
  • EXAMPLE: Heinz should try to steal the drug because that’s what a devoted husband would do.

Stage 4- Maintaining Social order  (Law and order morality) dictation of morality ) 

  • Respondent becomes boradly concerned the society as a whole.
  • Emphasis is an obeying laws , respectiving authority, and performing one duties so that social order.
  • EXAMPLE: Heinz should not steal the drug because that would be against the law and he has duty to uphold the law.

Level 3 – Post Conventional morality (age – 13 or not until middle or later adulthood or never)

Post Conventional morality
  • The controlling force for making judgment now rests with the individual himself.
  • He does not value a thing or confirm to an idea mercly because of consideration of the view of others, convention or the law and order system of the society but because it fits on to the framework of his self-accepted moral principles.

Stage 5- Social contract and Individual rights  (Awareness of laws and rules)

  • Respondents do not generally favour the breaking of laws ; laws are social contracts that we agree to uphold until we can change them by democratic means nevertheless, his wife’s right to live is a moral right that must be protected.
  • Rational thinking
  • Valuing the rights of human beings & the welfare of society.
  • EXAMPLE: Heinz should steal the drug because his obligation to save his wife’s life must take precedence over his obligation to respect the druggist’s property rights.

Stage 6- Universal Ethical principle  (Principled conscience) 

  • The controlling force for making moral judgment are highly internalized.
  • The decision of individuals now based upon his conscience, and the belief, in universal principle of respect, justice and equality.
  • EXAMPLE: Heinz should steal the drug even if the person was a stranger and not his wife. He must follow his conscience and not let the druggist’s desire for money outweigh the value of a human life.
Important Solved questions for all exams
1. What is moral development according to Kohlberg?
Ans. Kohlberg defined three levels of moral development: preconventional, conventional, and postconventional. … During the postconventional level, a person’s sense of morality is defined in terms of more abstract principles and values. People now believe that some laws are unjust and should be changed or eliminated.
2. Why is Kohlberg’s theory important?
Ans. Moral development prevents people from acting on unchecked urges, instead considering what is right for society and good for others. Lawrence Kohlberg (1927–1987) was interested in how people learn to decide what is right and what is wrong.
3. In the context of Kohlberg’s stages of moral reasoning, under which stage would the given typical response of a child fall? “Your parents will be proud of you if you are honest. So you should be honest.”
Ans. Good girl-good boy orientation
4. According to the pre-conventional level of Kohlberg’s theory, to which of the following would an individual turn when making a moral decision?
Ans. Potential punishment involved
5. What is a major criticism of Kohlberg’s theory?
Kohlberg did not account for cultural differences in moral reasoning of men and women.
6. The sense of right and wrong is most highly associated with what?
. Morality
7. According to Kohlberg’s theory of moral development, a human being’s moral development is a process of what?
Progressing through a series of standard stages of levels of morality.
8. The three major aspects of moral development include….
Thoughts, behaviors, and feelings.
9. According to Kohlberg, a key concept in understanding moral development is ____________, the developmental change from behavior that is externally controlled to behavior that is controlled by internal standards and principles.
10. Three levels of moral development, comprising six stages, were proposed by
Lawrence Kohlberg.

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