Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg, and Carol Gilligan are notable psychologists in the field of development. Piaget is known for the “Piagetian Stages of Cognitive Development”. According to Piaget, cognitive development can be divided into sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operation, and formal operation stages. Kohlberg is known for his study “Kohlberg Stages of Moral Development”. According to Kohlberg, moral development can be divvied up into pre-conventional, conventional, and post conventional stages. Gilligan is known for her work in studying women, her study is called “Gilligan’s Stages of the Ethic of Care”. Within Gilligan’s study the stages are split into pre-conventional, conventional, and post conventional. All three psychologists have stages of development within their respective studies. Piaget is different than the other two because his study focused mostly on cognitive development, not moral/ethical development like Kohlberg and Gilligan. Another difference in Piaget’s study is the focus it has on children, whereas the other two focus on adults. Gilligan focused on females in her study, whereas Kohlberg and Piaget focused on males.
I think moral development happens in stages. I believe this because a person has to understand simple things before moving onto more complex things. For example, a baby must learn to crawl before it can walk, and in turn before it can run, it must first walk. I think this is similar to moral/ethical development. A person can’t tackle a big moral dilemma without first learning through tackling smaller dilemmas. I feel like the way a person makes moral choices is based on more than gender. I think gender plays a role but I don’t think it is a deciding factor. I think the values and strategies a person uses to determine the right way to act is based on age, experience, education, and life situation. For example, I am a single female and I don’t have any children. I make life altering decisions based on myself because I don’t have anyone else to think about when making decisions. However, I have a male friend that has a daughter. He makes life altering decisions with her in mind. In most of his decisions he puts her first and himself second. This contradicts Gilligan’s theory that women put another people first more often than men. I put myself first not because my family (sister, mother, father) is unimportant to me because I have made the choice to do that. My friend puts his daughter first because he has made that choice.
I feel like we (people in society) are moving to a higher stage of moral development as we grow older. I think age, experience, education, and life situation plays a role in our moral development. As we age we go through more ethical dilemmas thusly we gain experience solving ethical issues. I also think our life experiences help to shape our moral development because we learn things throughout these experiences and we remember what happened or how we dealt with it. I think education plays a role in moral development because we gain more knowledge. We apply that knowledge to the situations we encounter and make better decisions. I think the place we are in our lives plays a role in moral development. I don’t mean location, but what we have going on in our lives effects what routes we choose in ethical dilemmas.