Moral Development

  • Created by: Shannon
  • Created on: 03-01-15 09:53


Developed from Turku university with funding from Finnish ministry of education and culture. Now administered in Finnish high schools. 

  • Bullying can be a strategy to gain power and status in a peer group, which is often successful. 
  • Bullies are perceived as being popular (Caravita, Diblasio & Salmivalli, 2008)
  • Bullying helps maintain status (Juvonen and Galvan, 2008) and increase it overtime (Cillessen and Borch, 2004)
  • In order to demontsrate their power, bullies target individuals who are physically weak, submissive, low member status in group and insecure when there are peer witnesses present
  • Sanio et al. (2011) found defended victims turn out to be better adjusted than undefended victims. 

Translated as "against bullying"


  • Promote social skills
  • Increase empathy
  • Affect norms and behaviour

2 Components:

  1. Universal Actions - 10 lessons involving group discussion, High-vis jackets worn by staff at break times, posters, parent websites and assemblies. 
  2. Indicated Actions - Tackle reported bullying - screening forms (case referred to KiVa if criteria is met i.e. intentional, repeated and power imbalance), scripted interviews and peer support.
  • Learn to be an emotion detective! - children look at pictures and asked if they like this emotion, what makes them feel like this emotion and where they feel that emotion. Have to put themselves in other people's shoes in a game. 

KiVa Principles

  • Don't need to change victims into being less vulnerable
  • Influencing the behaviour of classmates can reduce bully's rewards and so decrease their motivation to do so.
  • Victims need to feel they are being heard and helped by adults
  • Bullies need to be confronted on their unacceptable behaviour.
1 of 8

What is morality?

  • Distinguish right from wrong
  • Act on that distinction
  • Experience pride in virtuous conduct
  • Experience shame over acts that violate standards
2 of 8

Dysecting morality

Affective component

  • Emotions stressed by psychoanalytic theorists

Cognitive component

  • Reasoning stressed by cognitive-behavioural therapists

Behavioural component

  • Acting stressed by social-learning theorists and social information processing theorists. 
3 of 8

Freud's theory of oedipal morality

Superego develops during phallic stage (3-6yrs)

  • Child identifies with same-sex parent
  • Internalises same-sex moral standards
  • Girls lower superego than boys

However...this theory lacks supporting evidence...

4 of 8

Development of the conscience

Situational Compliance

Children who are raised by intimidating parents fail to internalise self-evaluative emotions, so are less likely to act upon them when unsupervised. 

Committed Compliance

This occurs when toddlers have a mutually responsive relationship with parents, as they can sense their parents' emotional signals of right and wrong and are motivated to comply with rules. Beggining of internalisation occurs before oedipal conflict in Freudian theory is resolved.

5 of 8

Piaget's theory of moral development

  1. Pre-moral period (pre-school) - Child has little concern or awareness of rules
  2. Heteronomous/External morality (5-10) - Strong respect for rules, which cannot be altered, actions are judged by consequence, not intent and any violations in social rules will lead to puishment as a belief of immanent justice (if rule is broken, punishment will occur)and punishment for it's own sake.
  3. Autonomous/Internal Morality (10-11) - Rules are arbituary agreements which can be violated in order to help someone, the intent of the action is the basis upon which punishment is given. Immanent justice is innacurrate and rather punishment is tailored to the transgression. 


  • Opposing evidence suggests that 3yr olds can adjust judgement according to actor's intentions (Nelson 1980)
  • Children can differentiate between different types of rules: 
  1. Social conventional rules can be changed by agreement
  2. Morals are more rigid
  • By correctly linking moral and cognitive knowledge, this urged parents to relax authoritarian control.
6 of 8

Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development

6 stage sequence:

Pre-conventional: Accept rules laid out by authority figures and judge actions based on censequences.

  1. Obedience and Punishment - child focusses on obeying rules that are enforced by punishment 
  2. Personal reward orientation - Actions are right if they suit the child's needs.

Conventional: Conformity to social norms is desirable, so maintains positive human relationships and social order.

  1. Good boy/nice girl orientation - What i right is defined by the expectations of others
  2. Law and order orientation - Shifts from expectancies of social roles to norms established by a certain social system.

Post-conventional: Morality now defined in abstract terms and moral principles that apply to all societies and situations. 

  1. Social contact orientation - Laws are upheld when consistent with the majority, if they're not, they can be changed.
  2. Universal ethics principle orientation - Morality is defined individually in abstract principles, laws usually conform with these principles  
  • Use dilemas requiring the children to make a choice between obeying rules or disobeying them whilst serving human needs. The focus is on the rationale used to make the decision.
  • Stages cannot be skipped
  • Most people only reach levels 3 and 4 (conventional stage)


  • Evidence to support sequence order 
  • Relates well to stages of cognitive development (cognitive pre-requisites) 
  • Support for importance of peer interaction (social experience hypothesis)
  • Not applicable to young children
  • Cultural bias - believer's in certain theory will deem it as truth.
  • Gender bias - Morality of justice vs. morality of care
  • Age bias - young children: complex distributive justice of what is fair. 
  • Neglects moral affect and behaviour: - Children's answers not predictive of their behaviou. Adults' moral conduct is influenced by other factors aside from simply moral reasoning.
7 of 8

Consistency of Moral Conduct and Character

  • Recent research has shown that moral behaviours in children are situation-dependent. However, there may be sub-kinds that are consistent across situations
  • Corelation between reasoning and behaviour increases with age.
  • Reinforcement acts as a determinant of moral conduct - children often comply with a warm, reinforcing adult. The importance of praise is highlighted.
  • Punishment most affective when firm and given immediately and consistently after wrong doing by a warm adult. Should give explanation of why action was wrong in order to encourage internal vs. external attribution of discomfort.
  • Conceptual Training - Teach children to be good honest people (moral self-concept)
  • Socialisation provides children with a concept of behaviours which are deemed appropriate within a community.
  • Induction: explaining why a behaviour is wrong and how it should be changed
8 of 8


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Moral development resources »