Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development

  • Self Focused Morality

    Preconventional Level (up to age nine):
    Morality is defined as obeying rules and avoiding negative consequences. Children in this stage see rules set, typically by parents, as defining moral law. That which satisfies the child’s needs is seen as good and moral.
  • Other Focused Morality

    Conventional Level (age nine to adolescence): Children begin to understand what is expected of them by their parents, teacher, etc. Morality is seen as achieving these expectations. Fulfilling obligations as well as following expectations are seen as moral law for children in this stage.
  • Higher Focused Morality

    Postconventional Level (adulthood): As adults, we begin to understand that people have different opinions about morality and that rules and laws vary from group to group and culture to culture. Morality is seen as upholding the values of your group or culture. Understanding your own personal beliefs allow adults to judge themselves and others based upon higher levels of morality. In this stage what is right and wrong is based upon the circumstances surrounding an action. Basics of morali