Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: November 23, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412959193 | Print ISBN: 9781412959186 | Online ISBN: 9781412959193| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Kohlberg, Lawrence: Moral Development Theory
Patricia Van Voorhis
Lawrence Kohlberg's interest in moral decision making began with strong questions about why the German citizenry did not protest Nazi atrocities committed against Jewish and other minority populations during the 1930s and 1940s. With colleagues at Harvard University, this inquiry later expanded to a body of research and theory on the broader realm of moral decision making, or individual perceptions of justice, responsibility, fairness, and right courses of actions. This work is most noted for conceptualizing moral decision making according to a series of developmental stages that evolve to varying degrees over the course of a lifetime. Kohlberg's theory of moral development is consistent with both ego and cognitive psychology. With psychodynamic ego developmental psychologists (e.g., Jane Loevinger), Kohlberg shared the notion that the ego becomes more mature with age. With cognitive psychologists (e.g., Jean Piaget), his writings held that the structure of one's reasoning or thought processes is 1. ...