Turning to Crime - Cognition - Kohlberg

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Turning to Crime - Cognition - Kohlberg

Kohlberg - Morals are a set of norms and values which we learn from our parents so we can distinguish between right and wrong. Kohlberg developed a stage theory of moral development. These stages can be applied to criminal behaviour; different stages for different types of crime.

Aim: Find evidence to support the idea of people progressing through different stages of moral development.

Method and Procedure: Group of boys;varied ages;shown the heinz dilemma to measure responses on their moral development and he wanted to know their reasoning used to justify their responses.


  • Pre-Conventional = Physical consequnces of action e.g. getting rewarded for good behaviour
  • Conventional = (This is where non-offenders are) - Mostly intenalised but not questioned and is based on norms of the group e.g. sticking to the speed limit and not going over it
  • Post-Conventional = Based on self-chosen principles and moral reasoning on individual rights and justice e.g. not committing a crime as it's go against your conscience

Conclusion: This can suggest people commit crime because of a lack of moral reasoning but there is no evidence to support this.

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