This paper discusses the moral behavior theories that were postulated by two psychologists Lawrence Kohlberg and Sigmund Freud. Though Kohlberg believes that human moral judgment and actions are as a result of an interaction between both their physical environment and their conscience, Sigmund believes that there are mental processes that are deterministic to one’s moral behaviors and therefore it is proper to seek explanations concerning the mental state upon which an individual made certain moral decisions and not merely examine the outcome of such behaviors. In contrast to Sigmund Freud, Lawrence Kohlberg came up with a model, stages of moral development to explain the changes in the various moral judgements of individuals as they went through different ages in their life.
Stages of moral development, as was put across by Lawrence Kohlberg, was adapted from the work of Jean Piaget Kohlberg. Through a story of Heinz which was dubbed Heinz Dilemma, Kohlberg developed questions from the story and asked them to children of different ages (Ambrose & Schminke, 2008). He used their answers to discover the manner in which moral reasoning changed as people grew up. Kohlberg divided the six stages into three levels and each level had two stages in it. The first level he called Pre-Conventional morality, these occurs at the age of slightly below or above 9. At this level, moral reasoning is based on physical results of studying the actions of adults and responding in line with them. The various stages at this level are obedience and punishment orientation where one simply avoid punishment, and the individualism and exchange stage where children realize that different individuals have different views concerning moral reasoning (Ashkanasy, & Treviño, 2006).
The second level according to Kohlberg is Conventional morality, at this level, authority is just internalized without questioning and reasoning is based on the norms that underlie groups to which one belongs. At good interpersonal relationships stage this level, an individual seeks approval from others (Ambrose & Schminke, 2008). At the second stage of this level, maintaining the social order, an individual recognizes wider societal rules and acts to uphold the law and avoid guilt. The third level is post conventional morality, at the first stage, social contrast and individual rights, an individual begins to appreciate that laws and rules might sometimes not be in favor of individual rights. At the second stage, universal principles, individuals develop their own moral principles, these principles tend to be universal and individuals are ready to defy the law and face the consequences but they withhold the principles (Ashkanasy, & Treviño, 2006). Sigmund Freud’s theory of unconscious which was highly deterministic (Freud, 2016), however postulates that human behavior explicable in terms of processes in the mind and state of the mind which determines the behavior (Freud, 2012).
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