Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development

Moral development is concerned with the emergence, change, and understanding of morality throughout the life span. In the context of moral development, morality is defined as the rightness or wrongness of action guided by ethical principles such as justice, equality, and dignity. This entry introduces Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, describing how the theory grew out of early research on children’s development, then looking at each stage and how it is assessed. This entry then discusses empirical support for and critiques of the theory and looks at how the theory applies to education.

Kohlberg built on the ideas of Jean Piaget, who was the first to investigate moral reasoning in children by interviewing and observing children’s interactions during games with rules. He then proposed three ...

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