Describe and Evaluate Piagets Theory of Moral Development Essay

549 WordsApr 21, 20133 Pages
Describe and evaluate Piagets theory of moral development. Piaget focused on how children’s moral knowledge and understanding changed with age. He studied 3 key areas; Judgement of punishment and wrongdoing, understanding of lies and understanding of rules. He used 2 methods of investigation, games of marbles and moral comparison stories. To understand children’s judgement of wrongdoing and punishment, Piaget presented children with 2 stories to compare. One story would involve intentional naughty behaviour but the damage is little, whereas the other involved an unintentional act but the damage is high. He manipulated 2 variables. 1) Whether or not the child was intentionally naughty 2) The amount of damage caused. After reading both stories, the children were asked which is naughtier and why. He found that children under 10 would take the amount of damage into account and recommended harsh punishments – expiratory punishment as it reflects the severity of the action but not the intention. However over 10 year olds took the intentions into account – punishment by reciprocity, the punishment should be matched to the wrongdoing. Piaget also suggested another type of punishment: Immanent justice – punishment that will follow by chance. A criticism of this method is that it is too cognitively demanding for younger children and the language is not child friendly. They would find it difficult to understand and remember 2 stories, in order to make a judgment. Nelson argued that Piaget underestimated children’s ability tin considering moral judgement, by creating a similar moral judgement task, but making it child friendly so it was clear for even 3 year olds to understand. However, Berk provided evidence to support that older kids focus more on intention than younger children. From his findings, Piaget proposed the 3 stages of moral development. The pre-moral stage
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