Navigating the rules and values of society and learning to cooperate with others are fundamental tasks of social development. As such, how individuals develop a sense of right and wrong has been of long-standing concern to psychologists. Although socialization refers to the broader process by which children acquire the rules and laws of society, morality pertains to a more limited set of norms and expectations regarding how individuals ought to treat others, including concerns for others’ welfare, rights, and fairness. This entry describes the major concepts, themes, and findings regarding moral development from infancy to adulthood, with an emphasis on how specific topics and methods vary across developmental periods.

Classic Theories of Moral Development

For much of the 20th century, two theoretical approaches dominated the study ...

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