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Kohlberg and Gilligan: Theories of Moral Development


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Title: Kohlberg and Gilligan: Theories of Moral Development

Kohlberg and Gilligan Theories of Moral
  • Jordan and Micah Gempel

  • Born October 25, 1927 in Bronxville, New York,
    died January 19, 1987
  • Attended Phillips Academy
  • After graduation, joined Merchant Marines
  • Joined Haganah
  • "The Holocaust is the event in human history that
    most bespeaks the need for moral education and
    for a philosophy that can guide it. My own
    interest in morality and moral education arose in
    part as a response to the Holocaust, an event so
    enormous that it often fails to provoke a sense
    of injustice in many individuals and societies."

  • Enrolled in University of Chicago in 1948
  • Received Doctorate degree from University of
    Chicago in 1958
  • Professor at Yale University from 1959-1961
  • Taught at University of Chicago in 1962
  • In 1968 taught at Harvard University

Kohlbergs Theory
  • Developed a stage theory of moral development,
    based upon Piaget
  • Kohlbergs Research
  • Sample of 72 boys, ages 10, 13, and 16
  • Gave them dilemmasex Heinz Dilemma
  • Not interested in yes or no answers, but the
    reason behind the answer.

Kohlbergs Stages
  • Level I Preconventional Morality
  • Stage 1 Obedience and Punishment Orientation
  • Stage 2 Individualism and Exchange
  • Level II Conventional Morality
  • Stage 3 Good Interpersonal Relationships
  • Stage 4 Maintaining the Social Order
  • Level III Postconventional Morality
  • Stage 5 Social Contract and Individual Rights
  • Stage 6 Universal Principles

  • On Nature/Nurture Debate
  • Kohlberg claims that progression through his
    stages is not genetic, but it is not a product of
    socialization either, so
  • Kohlberg argues that his stages emerge from ones
    own thinking about moral problems
  • So, we believe Kohlberg falls in the middle of
    the nature/nurture line.

Important Terms
  • Qualitative Differences
  • Structured Wholes
  • Invariant Sequences
  • Hierarchic Integrations
  • Universal Sequences

Definitions of Morality
  • Kohlberg defines morality as a natural product of
    a universal tendency towards empathy or role
    takingputting self in shoes of another. It is a
    universal concern for justice.
  • Gilligan defines morality as the realm of how one
    decides/resolves conflicts (conflicts between
    personal desires and social things/desires of
    self versus of another person/people). Morality
    is concerned with responsibilities, obligations,
    and values.

Carol Gilligan
  • Born November 28, 1936
  • Received Bachelors Degree from Swarthmore College
  • Received master's degree in clinical psychology
    from Radcliffe College,
  • Received Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard
  • Best known for book, In a Different Voice

Gilligans Position
  • Gilligan was a associate of Kohlberg at Harvard.
  • Criticized Kohlbergs work as biased against
    girls and women.
  • Males moral thought leans towards justice
  • Females moral thought leans towards care
  • So, woman will score lower on Kohlbergs scale
  • Woman tend to score within stage 3, and men score
    in stages 4 and 5

Gilligans Stage Theory
  • Preconventional Individual Survival
  • Then, a transition is made from selfishness to
  • Conventional Self sacrifice is goodness
  • Then, transition from goodness to truth, that she
    is a person too.
  • Postconventional Principle of nonviolence, do
    not hurt self or others

Our Research Project
  • Problem Overall, does gender play a role in how
    a child develops ideas of morality?
  • Do men and women score differently on Kohlbergs
    scaleGirls scoring lower, men higher?
  • Does Gilligans theory of moral orientations
    prove plausibledo men gravitate toward the
    justice approach and women toward the care

  • Based on our research, we believe that girls will
    score lower than boys on Kohlbergs scale. Also,
    we predict that men will gravitate towards a
    justice-based approach when confronted with a
    moral dilemma, while woman take a more caring and
    compassionate based approach.

  • Gave surveys to teachers at North Hills to give
    to students.
  • Our participants ages ranged from 13-18
  • We were able to survey 57 students, 26 girls, 31

  • G. Dilemma Circle male
    female Age _____
  • A mans wife was near death from a special kind
    of cancer. There was one drug that the doctors
    thought might save her. The drug was expensive to
    make, and the druggist was charging ten times
    what the drug cost him to make. He paid 400 for
    the drug and charged 4,000 for a small dose of
    the drug. The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went
    to everyone he knew to borrow the money and tried
    every legal means, but he could only get together
    about 2,000, which is half of what it cost. He
    told the druggist that his wife was dying, and
    asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay
    later. But the druggist said, "No, I discovered
    the drug and I'm going to make money from it."
    So, having tried every legal means, Heinz gets
    desperate and considers breaking into the man's
    store to steal the drug for his wife.
  • Should Heinz steal the drug? Why or Why not?
  • Is it right or wrong for him to steal the drug?
    Why or Why not?
  • What if the person dying is not his wife but a
    stranger. Should Heinz steal the drug for the
    stranger? Why or why not?
  • Should people try to do everything they can to
    obey the law? Why or why not?
  • What would you do if you were Heinz, and why?

Analyzing Results
  • G. Rating System
  • Points are given based on the childs response
    to why or why not Heinz should steal the drug.
  • 1 point is given if the childs reasoning in
    their response is based upon
  • A. Consequences/ Punishment
  • Ex Heinz should not steal the drug because he
    will be arrested.
  • B. Authority does/ does not permit it
  • Ex Heinz should not steal the drug because it is
    against the law.
  • 2 points given if the childs reasoning is based
  • Pursuing ones individual interests (what is
    beneficial to you alone)
  • Ex Heinz should not steal it because he would
    rather not be in prison for a long time.
  • The druggist was unfair so Heinz can be act
    unfair in return and steal the drug.
  • 3 points given if the childs reasoning involves
  • Motives or character traits
  • Ex The druggist is greedy so it is okay for
    Heinz to steal the drug.
  • -Heinz loves his wife and cant see her die so it
    is okay for him to steal the drug.
  • 4 points given if the childs reasoning concerns
  • Society as a whole
  • Ex Heinzs intentions are good but he cannot
    break the law because he feels it is the right
    thing to do.
  • 5 points given if the response emphasizes both

Results Male
1 2 3 4 5
13 1 2 4 1
16 1 1 8 3 4
17 1 1 2 1 1
18 1
Total 3 3 14 6 5
Female Results
1 2 3 4 5
13 1 1 4 2
14 2
16 3 6 3
17 2 1 1
Total 1 4 14 3 4
Final Results
  • Our hypothesis was incorrect
  • Slightly more males in stages 4 and 5, but
    overall barely any difference.
  • Same amounts of boys and girls in Stage 3
  • Overall, females did not score lower than males.
  • Also, since equal numbers of male and females
    fell into stage 3, we were unable to conclude if
    men gravitate towards the justice approach woman
    towards the care approach.

  • We wanted to replicate the ages Kohlberg used in
    his study, but we could not survey any 10 year
  • Then, had to modify hypothesis.
  • Some students did not take survey seriously.
  • Ex Q What would you do if you were Heinz?
  • A If I were Heinz I would create Heinz Ketchup
    and make millions and buy the store.
  • We were not present to administer survey
  • Problems identifying which stage the person was
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