Lawrence Kohlbergs Stages of Moral Development

Preconventional Morality

Children are required to have pre-conventional morality if he has not been able to adapt to society's conventions regarding the things that are right or wrong. The child instead focuses on consequences that are external and might be a result of specific actions. Children with Pre-conventional morality try to avoid being punished at all costs. 


Lawrence Kohlberg Theory

The theory of Lawrence Kohlberg suggests that there are three levels of development of morale. Every class is further divided into two stages. The theory suggests that every person moves through all these stages in a fixed order. There is a link between moral understanding and cognitive development. The three levels of moral reasoning by Lawrence Kohlberg are Preconventional, Postconventional, and Conventional. He used the theory of Piaget to tell stories to people about ethical dilemmas. 


Lawrence Kohlberg's Post-conventional Morality

The third stage of moral development is known as Postconventional morality. It is characterized by the understanding of principles of ethics by an individual. The principles are ill-defined and abstract, and they might include human dignity, as it is crucial and the preservation of life. The judgment of an individual must be based on the principles that he chooses.  They must also be found on individual justice and rights. Kohlberg further says that the level of Postconventional morality is the farthest people get. 


Preconventional Stage

The first stage of moral development is known as Preconventional morality. It lasts until the age of 9 in a child. At this level, children generally do not have their code of ethics. Instead, they make moral decisions that are developed by the consequences of breaking their rules. Adults who have a better understanding of morals mainly shape their moral choices. For example, if a specific action leads to rewards, it is a good action, and if a particular action leads to punishment, it is a wrong action. This is an example of preconventional reasoning.


Lawrence Kohlberg Moral Development

Lawrence Kohlberg developed the theory of moral development in the year 1958. It is a stage theory about moral development. It is based on the idea of Jean Piaget about children's righteous judgement. The view of moral development consists of three stages of moral development and is cognitive by nature. It primarily focuses on thinking that occurs when an individual decides if the behaviour is correct or wrong. Therefore, theoretical emphasis is laid on the process by which an individual chooses to respond to a moral dilemma rather than what one decides or does. 


Pre-conventional Reasoning

The first of the three levels of moral reasoning is Pre-conventional reasoning. At the Pre-conventional level of moral development, children judge between the right and wrong things by keeping external standards in their mind rather than the internal standards. They emphasize maximizing their self-interests and avoiding any punishments. The reasoning has a cognitive-developmental approach. Two different groups of moral reasoning follow this level. 


Preconventional Level

At the level of Preconvention, morality is controlled externally. The rules that are imposed by authorities are confirmed to avoid being punished or receive any rewards. The perspectives of the idea of the right things or the things that are wrong in a person's mind. This means that what a person finds satisfying personally will enable him to get along with satisfaction. 


Lawrence Kohlberg Stages

The theory of Lawrence Kohlberg about moral development has three stages that are further divided into two more stages. The names of the stages are pre-conventional stage, conventional and post-conventional stage. The pre-conventional stage is the first stage and generally lasts up to the age of nine in individuals. The conventional stage is the second stage and takes place after the age of nine in a person. The post-conventional stage is the third and final stage that a person could get to regarding moral development. All three stages are regarding the outcome of morals among individuals. According to Kohlberg, the post-conventional stage is the last stage a person could get for moral development. 


Postconventional Stage

The Post-conventional level is the final level of the moral developmental theory of Kohlberg. This is the stage where individuals enter the highest level of development of their moral. The people who have reached this stage are concerned with their inborn human rights guided by the principles of their own ethical choices. During this stage, an individual's sense of morality can be defined in more values and principles. However, the theory of Kohlberg has been criticized for its biases regarding gender and culture. 


Postconventional Reasoning

An individual can move beyond the shared perspectives of his society at the Post-conventional level. Morality is generally related to the values and abstract principles that apply to every society and situation. The individual tries to attempt to take the perspectives of every individual of the society into consideration. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the Theory of Lawrence Kohlberg?

Answer: Lawrence Kohlberg's theory states that a person will go through three different stages of moral development in his life. During these three stages, he will develop the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. Individuals will create a sense that will help them do more work that brings rewards and avoids work that can result in punishment. The theory has three stages in which individuals develop and change their morals.

2. What are the Stages of Kohlberg’s Theory?

Answer: There are three stages of the theory of Kohlberg. The three stages are Pre-conventional, conventional, and Post-conventional stages. The Pre-conventional stage generally lasts until the age of 9 among individuals. During this stage, an individual learns the initial importance of morals. The next stage is known as the conventional stage. In this stage, a person can differentiate between the right and the wrong things. Therefore, he will try his best to do the jobs that lead to rewards and avoid the positions that lead to punishments. The last stage is the Post-conventional stage. A person could get for the development of his moral to this final stage. In this stage, a person ultimately develops his moral characteristics.