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Research methods in moral development
1 MORAL COMPARISONS
This was used by Piaget only.
MORAL COMPARISON-this is where a child has to compare two stories, one with the larger consequence and the
other with bad intentions. Piaget reads the stories to the children and asks `who was the naughtiest and why?'
1.1 JOHN AND HENRY
John's mother shouted him downstairs. John didn't know that 15 cups were behind the door and so when he opened
the door then all of the 15 cups were smashed. Henry's mother told Henry he was not allowed the jam. Yet he still
gets the jam by climbing up to reach it as he does this then one of the cup smashes. Who was naughtier and why?
Nelson investigated the intentions of three year olds. She used a more child friendly task which addressed the
limitations of Piaget's study. She used only one story with four versions but each child only heard one version
(independent measures). She asked the child which character in the story was good and which character in the story
was bad. Nelson found children as young as three could understand intentions and this therefore contradicts Piaget's
1.3 LIMITATIONS OF USING MORAL COMPARISONS
Feldman argued are we testing memory or morality? This is because the use of moral comparisons are not
child friendly and cognitively demanding because it is difficult to remember two stories and then make a
comparison. Primacy and recency effect may affect the order of the results.
Moral comparisons involve hypothetical dilemmas which don't reflect real life.
2 MORAL DILEMMAS
Used by Kohlberg, Gilligan, Eisenberg and Damon.
MORAL DILEMMA-this technique involves a choice to consider the rights of authority and the needs of the deserving
Kohlberg, Eisenberg and Damon.
He investigated justice.
18.104.22.168 Heinz dilemma
Heinz's wife was dying of cancer. A chemist in the town had created a drug which could cure her but it was very
expensive. Heinz couldn't afford the drug and so steals it. Should Heinz go to jail?
22.214.171.124 Key study: Kohlberg
72 boys from Chicago aged between 10 and 16 were interviewed. In a one hour interview, they experienced 9
dilemmas and younger children focused on rewards and punishment, whereas, older children focused on intentions.
However, you can't generalise the study because of its location (Chicago) and sex (boys).
126.96.36.199 Limitations of Kohlberg's moral dilemma
Content validity because the moral dilemmas often involve cancer or war which are not child friendly.
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The moral dilemma tends to focus justice. Gilligan would argue males are justice orientated which ignores
females as they are care orientated.
They are subjective and down to interpretation but this was addressed using inter-rater reliability.
Lacks predictive validity.
Damon investigated distributive justice.
A class of students produced a painting each for the school fair. They earned a lot of money; they had to decide how
to divide the money.…read more
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Freud used the case study method.
3.1 LITTLE HANS
Little Hans was a boy who was afraid of horses, Freud interpreted this as he had fear of his father and this was
because he feared castration. It is the supporting evidence of the superego which emerges in the phallic stage
through the successful resolution of the Oedipus and Electra complex at age five.
Case studies are rich in detail and allow an in-depth study over a period of time.