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Kohlbergs Cognitive Moral Development Theory The cognitive moral development proposed by Lawrence Kohlberg (1927-1987) provides insight

for this study investigation of moral development of adolescents. Despite its origin in the field of child psychology, Kohlbergs cognitive moral development has seen extensive used to other adolescents and adults as well. The continued reliance on Kohlbergs theory in empirical studies on an individuals moral development has made it arguably the most dominant theory in the area (Rest et al, 1999). Kohlbergs CMD framework is described as a cognitive, structural, developmental, and sequential model (Rest, 1994; Thorne, 1999). The main focus of the framework lies on an individuals moral cognition, that is, the reasoning process behind ones moral decisions. Kohlberg postulates that an individuals reasoning processes may be structured into different levels. The structures are sequential and developmental, such that a person may progress into assuming a more sophisticated mode of reasoning. An upward development along Kohlbergs stages, as was concluded from a massive collection of empirical evidence, correlates most strongly with age and formal education (Rest et al, 1999). Kohlberg also strongly advocates that the moral development stages are invariantly sequential, resembling that of a staircase (Rest, 1994; Siegler, 1997). Based on this assumption, Kohlberg postulates that an individual would go along each one of the development stages, one after another. Additionally, Kohlberg (1976; 1981) also contends that a retrospective movement along the stages would not be possible. Kohlbergs conception of moral development stages was largely influenced by the works of Jean Piaget (1896-1980). Kohlberg undertook a series of interviews with male children and adolescents to explore the reasoning process that underlies their response to moral dilemmas. Based on his analysis of the interview data, Kohlberg proposed patterns of moral reasoning that are divided into three distinct orientations, each consisting of two stages: pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional, further attempts to validate his findings, namely, through an extensive series of longitudinal and cross-cultural studies (Kohlberg, 1981; 1984; Colby, Kohlberg, Gibbs and Lieberman, 1983; Snarey, 1985; Colby and Kohlberg, 1987), had led him to conclude that the sequential stages, which he argues as representing a persons pattern of moral thinking, is likely to be universal. Kohlbergs moral development stages and their main features are summarized in Table below.

Table 2: Kohlbergs Moral Development Stages Pre conventional Focus is self Obedience Stage 1 - You do what you are told primarily to avoid punishment. Instrumental egotism and simple exchange Stage 2 - You make deals or only consider the cost and/or benefit to yourself Conventional level Focus is relationships Interpersonal concordance Stage 3 - You are considerate, nice, and kind and youll get along with people. You cooperate with those in your environment. Law and duty to the social order Stage 4 - Everyone in society is obligated and is protected by the law. You cooperate with society in general. Post-conventional level Focus is personally held principles Societal consensus Stage 5 - You are obliged by whatever arrangements are agreed to and by due process and procedure. Focus is on fairness of the law or rule as determined by equity and equality in the process of developing the rule. Non-arbitrary social cooperation Stage 6 - Rational and impartial people would vie cooperation as moral. Focus is on fairness of the law or rules derived from general principles of just and right as determined by rational people.

Each of the three levels in Kohlbergs theory reflects the different social perspectives underlying a persons moral judgment. The first level, Preconventional, is essentially egotistical, where morality is viewed along the concern for personal well-being. For Preconventional individuals, moral behaviour is initially induced by obedience and fear of punishment (Stage 1). The individuals would then move on to a higher stage, in which the reason for moral behaviour is the expected benefit from a reciprocal arrangement (Stage 2). Kohlberg postulates that most individuals would continue to develop to the next higher level, namely the Conventional level (Stages 3 and 4). At this level, moral reasoning takes on an interpersonal perspective. This perspective is initially dictated by the desire to please others, namely, to be seen as a good boy or girl (Stage 3). As an individual continues to develop along this level, a shift in moral reasoning will take place, where the concern for laws and order comes into play (Stage 4). At this stage, a persons moral decision process is dominated by the perceived need to conform to the existing laws, such that the order of the society may be preserved. The highest level of moral development, as Kohlberg postulates, is described as Postconventional or Principled level. Adolescents at this level, moral decisions are based on an internalization of certain universal principles that govern the laws and other societal arrangements. At Stage 5, moral decision process is no longer dominated by conformity to existing laws per se. Instead, adolescents at this stage begin to consider the notion of social

contract, in which compliance to existing laws is induced by the desire to honour the obligations that are developed from fair societal agreements. At Stage 6, the highest stage in Kohlbergs cognitive moral development principles, moral decision process is dominated by the concern for an overarching, universal moral principle that governs societal arrangements. Kohlbergs framework essentially prescribes good morals as being universal principles, which may be found in many different cultures regardless of their application in the local context (Rest et al, 1999). Adolescents at Stage 6, obliging to establish social rules become relative as opposed to absolute as may be demanded by society, that is, only as far as they continue to observe respect of value-systems. This also means, to some extent, an obligation not to follow, or to change social norms or values (Rest et al, 1999; Lovell, 1997). Kohlberg postulates that the majority of adults would have reached the Conventional level, but not all will continue to develop into assuming Post-conventional moral thinking (Wright, 1995).

Critiques of Kohlbergs theory Common with many theories, Kohlbergs cognitive moral development framework has been subject to various criticisms. Rest, Narvaez, Bebeau, and Thoma (1999) assert that some of the points raised by his critiques had prompted Kohlbergs revision of his definition of the moral reasoning stages, and the scoring method that he had used to assess an individuals stage of moral development. Kohlberg was also said to be inconsistent with his stages of moral development as he kept on revising his own ideas until his death in 1987, hence notable differences are found between the approaches that he used in his earlier and more recent works in the fields of psychology (Rest, Narvaez, Bebeau, and Thoma, 2000).

Carol Gilligans The works of Carol Gilligan are often used as a basis from which a challenge against Kohlbergs moral developmental framework is posed. In her seminal work, In a Different Voice (1982), Gilligan raised a concern over what she saw an inherent male norm in Kohlbergs categorical justice and rights perspective of morality. She noted the fact that Kohlbergs moral development stages were developed using an exclusively White, male sample, and that his scoring method had resulted in female subjects being assigned a lower developmental stage, namely, stage 37 (Reiter, 1997). Through a series of interviews with female respondents, in which they were asked to respond to the same dilemma that Kohlberg had used in his works, Gilligan proposes her version of a three-stage moral development

sequence, which has been termed the ethics of care perspective. In place of justice and right perspective, Gilligans framework emphasizes relationships and interdependence, and recognizes the importance of contextual consideration in the resolution of moral dilemmas (Fisher, 2001). The essence of Gilligans framework is summarized in Table 2-2.

Table 2-2: Gilligans Moral Developmental Stages Stages Stage 1 Transitional Phase Description Extreme selfishness to ensure survival and satisfaction of basic needs Recognition that precipitates internal criticism that previous actions were selfish and, as such, morally inappropriate. The criticism precipitates a new understanding of the connection between self and others, articulating the concept of responsibility which leads to the second stage of development. Stage 2 Transitional Phase Extreme selflessness or altruism good is equated with caring for others Recognition that one is harming him/herself by exclusive focus on the needs of others and that such exclusionary focus is morally inappropriate. The inequality manifested in the relationships between the self and others, which is the outcome of the selflessness of the second stage, and is questioned in the second transitional phase gives rise to a balance of selfishness and responsibility at the third stage. Stage 3 Equal understanding of the needs of self and others. At this final stage there is a new understanding of the interconnection between the self and others, and the responsibility to care comes to include both the self and others. No longer will the individual be mired in selfsacrifice or extreme altruism. Now s/he will consider her/his own welfare, needs and desires equally with the needs and desires of others with whom s/he has a relationship, letting the contextual details answer the question of whose need is greatest in this particular situation and thereby indicate an appropriate course of action.

While opinions vary on whether Gilligans ethics of care perspective is a direct replacement for Kohlbergs ethics of justice/rights (Jorgensen, 2006), Gilligans framework essentially revealed a different aspect of moral consideration that was not adequately captured in Kohlbergs theory. Rest et al (2000) asserts that Kohlberg had revised the scoring procedure in his Moral Judgment Interview method based on the issues that were raised by Gilligan. Yet, Kohlbergs framework essentially remains rooted in justice and rights perspective (ibid.). Reiter (1997) contends that the care and justice/rights perspectives, which features are compared in Table 2-3, each offer different but useful insights toward understanding an individuals moral development. In a similar vein, Rothbart, Hanley, and Albert (1986) argued that Kohlbergs justice orientation and Gilligans care orientations should be viewed as two complementary perspectives. They contend that both perspectives may be found in moral reasoning process of males and females, but one perspective may dominate the other in such a process.

Linking Adolescents Sexual Behaviors to Moral Development The usefulness of Kohlbergs moral developmental framework has been evaluated against its ability to predict moral behaviours. In particular, Kohlbergs notion of a sequence of moral development has been criticised for lack of strong empirical evidence linking between higher moral developmental stages and moral behaviour (Rest et al, 1999). It was contended, however, that in many cases this was due to the methodological complexity in defining and measuring what would have been a moral behaviour (Rest and Narvaez, 1994). Nonetheless, in a review of the literatures by Thoma, Rest, and Barnett (1986, cited in Rest et al, 1999), the authors found that 32 out of 47 studies had reported significant correlations between Post-conventional thinking and pro-social behaviours, hence some proof on the link between Kohlbergs stages and moral behaviours. In addition, Kohlbergs cognitive moral development framework has also been critiqued regarding its applicability across different cultures. In essence, it has been argued that the notion of autonomous morality, such as reflected in Kohlbergs Post conventional/ Principled level of moral development, is inappropriate for certain cultural groups that emphasize collective well-being like that Indonesia. Yet, a review of the literatures carried out by Snarey (1985, cited in Rest et al, 1999) has extended some support for the cross-cultural applicability of Kohlbergs cognitive moral development framework.

Snareys review of 45 empirical studies that covered 27 different countries provides some evidence that Kohlbergs notion of upwardly sequential and invariant stages of moral development could be observed in different cultural contexts. Nonetheless, Snarey also found that the higher stages of development (Stages 5 and 6) were less prevalent in certain cultural contexts. On this note, Wright (1995) contends that the fact that Post conventional thinking would be less common in certain cultures augurs well with Kohlbergs proposition, that is, not all adults will develop to the highest stage of moral development.