Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development

Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development originated out of his studies on the development of children’s and adolescents’ moral thinking. Building on the theories of John Dewey and Jean Piaget, Kohlberg identified six developmental stages of moral reasoning. Successive stages represent increasing complexity and psychological adequacy in solving moral problems. According to this theory, moral development is a process of organized mental transformations regarding social interactions and concepts. This entry further describes Kohlberg’s stages and how they are identified, discusses their relation to gender and culture, and examines the challenges and revisions to Kohlberg’s theory.

Justice and Perspective Taking

In this developmental process, the individual internalizes, actively organizes, and becomes capable of carrying out more advanced and complex modes of moral thinking. Throughout development, there is an ...

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