Kohlberg's stages of moral development

by Mum 3 Replies latest jw friends

  • Mum

    Lawrence Kohlberg, Harvard professor emeritus, identified six stages of moral development classified into three levels:

    Level 1: Pre-conventional - The stages are (a) obedience and punishment and (b) individualism, instrumentalism and exchange

    Level 2: Conventional - The stages are (c) "good boy/girl" and (d) law and order

    Level 3: Post-conventional - The stages are (e) social contract and (f) finally, principled conscience

    A summary I found at http://www.nd.edu/~rbarger/kohlberg.html explains that the first level is generally found at the elementary school level, with obedience given because of fear of punishment; in stage (b) above, the individual's behavior is seen as acting in his/her own best interest.

    The "conventional" (Level 2) is what is found in most societies, with (c) "good boy/girl," i.e. seeking approval and (d) law and order, being law abiding and duty conscious.

    "Post conventional" (Level 3), according to Kohlberg, is not reached by most people. It consists of (e) a "social contract" ("an understanding of social mutuality and a genuine interest in the welfare of others") and (f) "respect for universal principle and demands of individual conscience."

    When I first learned about Kohlberg in a Psychology class I took, I immediately thought of how, as a JW, I was doomed to an elementary school mentality forever because of the spying, tattling, and threats of punishment.

    I have made good progress. Hope you have, too.



  • Seeker4

    Have come to the same conclusions myself. JWs, like most similar religious or social groups, are really in a low level of development and consciousness.

    You might be interested in checking out the writings of Ken Wilber. Try "One Taste," or "A Theory of Everything." He takes Kohlberg's work, and that of a thousand other thinkers, and runs with it to some really interesting places. Wilber was a huge help in giving me an intellectual foundation as I left the Witnesses.


  • Carmel

    Wasn't there another developmental psychologist named Maslow or Masloff that had seven stages of moral development? Sorry, the mind is slipping, I distinctly remember twenty five years ago reading it!


  • Mum

    Yes, Carmel, Abraham Maslov (Maslow?) delineated a heirarchy of needs (not moral development) from the basics of food and shelter to self-actualization, but I can't recall all of them right now. Dr. Wayne Dyer, whose writings helped me free myself from the JW's as well as a very controlling, twisted, sick family, names Maslov(w?) as his mentor as well.

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