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Piaget and Kohlberg’s Theories Differences and Similarities

The cognitive stage developmental theory put forth by Lawrence Kohlberg is often looked at as an advancement of Jean Piaget’s theory on morals. The theory put forth by Piaget focused on the cognitive ability of children and their moral development while in their natural environment. He was the first to popularize the idea that children grow and develop in specific stages. On the other hand, Kohlberg’s theory focus point was how children began to perceive morality, this argument is based on Piaget’s theory even though both their theories as well as their approaches differ.

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According to the Moral development theory by Piaget, children easily believe that either God or their parents are the only ones who can dictate rules. The theory further explains that children always base their moral perceptions on repercussions rather than intents (Kavathatzopoulos, 1991). Piaget’s theory suggests that at the age of 10, the way children think about morality shifts, they now start perceiving that morality is founded on their intent and judgment calls.

Looking at Kohlberg’s theory, it is easy to notice that it builds on Piaget’s, however, in a six-stage paradigm, it provides a more profound comprehension of children’s morality. Just like Piaget, Kohlberg, in his theory, saw that to understand morality, children had to first understand the concepts of rules and repercussions (Kavathatzopoulos, 1991). The most salient criticism of its theory by Piaget is its lack of control scientifically. The scientific control of a theory is the implementation and design of an experiment to minimize the effects of variables that are not independent. On the other hand, the most serious critique leveled at Kohlberg’s theory is that it heavily emphasizes justice at the expense of other values, therefore leaving some who value alternative moral dimensions of actions unsatisfied.

For an intentional instructor, Kohlberg’s theory is a more useful framework. Kohlberg’s theory builds more on Piaget’s theory, suggesting that it contains a lot more simplified information on moral development in children. Instructors can apply Kohlberg’s theory in classrooms in many ways. For example, to avoid punishment, students in stage one behave responsibly. In the second stage, students act in a way that will earn those rewards. By the third stage, students have begun to consider other individuals and their expectations. Allowing children to participate in the creation of rules, rather than simply accepting rules established by their parents or other authoritative figures, children will become responsible for enacting and following the rules they create.

Reference

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (1991). Kohlberg and Piaget: Differences and similarities. Journal of Moral Education, 20(1), 47-54.

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StudyCorgi. "Piaget and Kohlberg’s Theories Differences and Similarities." November 17, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/piaget-and-kohlbergs-theories-differences-and-similarities/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Piaget and Kohlberg’s Theories Differences and Similarities." November 17, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/piaget-and-kohlbergs-theories-differences-and-similarities/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Piaget and Kohlberg’s Theories Differences and Similarities'. 17 November.

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