Children at different ages make decisions based on their level of reasoning as influenced by their level of mental development and culture. For instance, children in their early childhood reason differently from those in their middle childhood according to Berk (2014). Many theories have been developed to explain how children are bound to reason at different levels of development. One such theory is the Kohlberg’s moral development theory. According to Kohlberg, there are three levels of moral development each subdivided into two stages.
The Kohlberg’s theory will be used to discuss the decision that Jane in this moral dilemma may take. According to the nature of the dilemma, it will be right to say that Jane could most likely be a child in her early childhood considering her value for toys. Therefore, Jane’s level of moral development falls under level 1 of Kohlberg’s theory. If Jane is in stage 1 of this level, she is most likely not going to take the money. At this stage, children’s decisions are based on fear of punishment (Tsujimoto and Nardi, 1978). Cultural influence will also play a role here because, if the society in which she lives does not view taking the money as wrong, she will have no reason to fear being punished for taking it and this will lead her to decide to take the money and buy the toy otherwise she will not take it.
On the other hand, if Jane is in stage 2 of moral development, her decision will be guided by individual gain from her actions. Children in this stage do not view adult’s moral values as absolute but as subject to change from one person to another. Children decide based on whether they will benefit from their actions or not (Tsujimoto and Nardi, 1978). In this context, Jane will most probably take the money and buy the toy to satisfy her interests. Here, cultural influence may not play a significant role in influencing her decision.
Berk, L. E. (2014). Development through the Lifespan: Pearson Education.
Tsujimoto, R. N. and Nardi, P. M. (1978). A comparison of Kohlberg’s and Hogan’s Theories of Moral Development. Social Psychology.