A Reaction Paper to: “How Moral Are You?” by Kohlberg, L. (1963); The Development of children’s orientation…of moral thought & “Telling The Truth” by Barasch, Douglas S.(Family Life) I read both of these articles and found them to be interesting. In the first article, “How Moral Are You?” published in Forty Studies that Changed Psychology IV by Roger R. Hock, what is discussed is Lawrence Kohlberg’s research on the formation of morality. Kohlberg believed the ability to moralize situations encountered in life develops in a specific pattern during our childhood years. He believed that a child must reach a certain stage and mentality in order to create a level of morality. I found the information he presented was interesting. Things such as each ‘stage’ a child undergoes increase the understanding of the concept of morality and the stages always occur in a step-by-step pattern.
Kohlberg reasoned the stages are “prepotent,” meaning the child understands every stage that he/she has been through and a vague idea of the stage above them (197). As for how he researched his theory, the process seems simple enough. He supplied children of different ages with “10 hypothetical moral dilemmas”(197). I found myself answering the questions about moral issues with confusion. The question that was most difficult to answer was the ‘Heinz Dilemma’ in which a man commits a crime to save his wife from dying. I would forgive his [the husband’s] actions because the druggist was being unfair in his offering price for his medicine. That kind of druggist shouldn’t be allowed to be creating drugs anyway…his job is to aid people not the antithesis.
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I enjoyed reading this article but conceived of a few flaws in his theory that he [Kohlberg] did not address though many other critiques did. The glitches in his theory were such as: although Kohlberg represents an interpretation of morality, most of these ideas represent the Western culture and failed to apply to non-Western cultures. It was also difficult to apply his theory equally for both men and women. He did a wonderful job of explaining morality even though it would not stand up on its own in the years to come. The second article I read, I found to be similar to my first in the fact that they both discussed moral reasoning of children and different so-called ‘stages.’ It was published by Douglas S. Barasch in the 1998 February issue of the magazine, ’Family Life.’ The article discusses why children lie at different ‘stages of growth and under which controlling factors.
The article also told of certain factors that make children lie from ages three to five; ‘Moral reasoning and behavior of children ages six to nine; Importance of self-rule and independence in children ages 10-12 and when lies are harmful (1). When the author discussed ages three to five what struck me most was the child is not aware of the line between fantasy and reality to the extent that ‘they do grasp the difference, [but] the boundaries are highly subjective and their moral compass is still primitive’(3). An example of an action that can muddle a child’s grasp on reality is when a parent/brother/sister etc. tells the child that answers the telephone to “tell whoever it is I’m not home”(3). I thought to myself how many times I had done that in front of my younger cousin and realized I needed to be more aware of the influence I have over her.
This article spoke of moral reasoning happening in stages because of environmental influences that surround a child. I found it very interesting that during the age of six, “a child’s powers of moral reasoning and behavior, and ability to empathize with others are not fully developed yet by age nine, children should know the difference between right and wrong, truth and lying” (4). Both articles were interesting and informative although each dealt with a different aspect of children’s stages of processing moral instincts. The first [article] dealt with stages that had different levels of moral reasoning and utilized subjects in a scientific and psychological method, while the second article discussed the stages of truthfulness and morality levels of children at different stages; paying close attention to environmental factors that affected the end result. I liked the fact that both articles dealt with personality because this is my favorite part of psychology.