Moral Development Term Paper

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moral development of females and males. The writer discusses moral development including stages, reasoning, similarities and differences between females and males. The writer also discusses aggression in both genders and the impact on moral development. There were five sources used to complete this paper.

Today's society faces many acts of violence against its members. Shootings such as Columbine, date rape drugs being slipped into sodas, gang style murders, rapes and robberies seem to be more common place with each passing year. This calls to question the morals of societal members and whether or not young boys and girls are being taught morals and values. Morals include things such as honesty, respect of others and leading one's life in a fashion that is not harmful to others. Morals are something that is taught in the home, in the school and in social settings. Teaching morals is the teaching or expression of a conception of right behavior according to Webster dictionary. The internal ability to weigh the choices and choose the one that is right by societal standards as well as human decency provides the basics of morals. Within the last few decades there have been questions about differences in the genders. Boys and girls share many similarities and they also have many differences. The development of moral thinking and moral behavior is done in both genders, however there are measurable differences in the beliefs about how the moral development occurs between the two genders. There is a difference in the genders when it comes to the moral development and the influences on that development.

Moral Reasoning

One of the most important factors to moral development and teaching is the bond between children and parents regardless of the gender of the children. Research has indicated many times that a strong bond and a confident bond in the parents by the child play a large part in the moral development of that child. It is something that transcends gender boundaries and limits. The attachment of the children to their parents or primary caretakers has a significant impact on the later development of moral reasoning and moral behavior.

A study was conducted to determine the attachment of the children to the primary caretakers (Izendoorn, 1995).

The study determined several levels of security and attachment of the child participants to their primary caretakers. Then the moral reasoning of each group was studied.

Moral reasoning involves making moral judgments in situations of moral conflict. Kohlberg (1984) postulated that there are six stages in the development of moral reasoning (Izendoorn, 1995). The stages imply distinct or qualitatively different modes of thinking. Each stage presupposes the understanding gained at previous stages (Izendoorn, 1995). As a result, each stage provides a more adequate way of making and justifying moral judgments and represents a higher level of moral reasoning. The stages are supposed to form an invariant sequence in individual development, but people can and do differ in rate and eventual level of moral reasoning (Izendoorn, 1995). "

There are four stages of moral development according to research.

Stage 1 of moral reasoning is characterized by an egocentric point-of-view.

At Stage 2 moral reasoning is still dominated by one's own interests, but there is also an awareness of other people having their own interests.

At Stage 3 there is an awareness of shared feelings, agreements, and expectations that take primacy over individual interests.

At Stage 4, moral reasoning is characterized by the consideration of individual relationships, rights, and obligations from the perspective of the social system.

The study concluded that moral reasoning is strongly tied to parental or caregiver attachment regardless of the gender.


The belief that aggression is acceptable behavior is tied to moral development. Violence occurs in classrooms, in gangs, in the streets and in families around the nation. Violence is a physical statement that the perpetrator fails to recognize the boundaries of human decency and human respect.

In the area of violence and aggression studies have shown that there is a gender difference (Livock, 1995). Violence against females by males is much higher than violence against males by females. This could be because of the ease that males can accost females more than a difference in the development of morals (Livock, 1995).

Physical aggression included hostile behaviors such as hitting and pulling hair that resulted in pain or injury inflicted onto another person or self. Verbal aggression was defined as any act of hostile behavior using threats, name-calling, or obscenities to provoke another person (Day, 1998). Displaced aggression was defined as hostile behavior directed toward property with the intent to damage or destroy that property (e.g., kicking the trash can, throwing chairs, or breaking windows) (Day, 1998). "

One study focused on hospitalized adolescents for the purpose of gauging violent acts or acts of aggression within the population. The moral development of males and females includes their emerging ideas about aggression and its acceptability in society. This study collected data of acts of aggression in the adolescents that were in the study (Day, 1998).

There were 545 incidents of aggression during the data collection period; 428 (77%) of them were committed by boys. Of the 545 incidents, 278 (57%) involved physical aggression; thus, physical aggression in this inpatient unit occurred at an average rate of 0.65 per day (Day, 1998). The boys committed 221, 130, and 77 acts of physical, verbal, and displaced aggression, respectively; the similar frequencies for the girls were 57, 24, and 36. Records indicated that six incidents of aggression resulted in injury to the victim; five injuries were coded as nonserious, and one was coded as serious injury (Day, 1998)."

This supports the belief that males have a higher incidence of aggression than females so in that one area of moral development there is a difference between the genders.

The importance of proper moral development to the individual and to the society in which he or she is a member is a straightforward idea that is hard to challenge. How such development should be achieved, however, is much more problematic and even controversial. A little less than 20 years ago I encountered a fact that was surprising at the time (Zern, 1997): 79% of the general American public, according to a then- current Gallup poll (Gallup Poll, 1973), believed that the schools should be involved in the moral development of their students (Zern, 1997)."

Another study looked at people between the ages of 12 and 22 years old.

A total of 2,861 students were administered the same basic questionnaire over a period of 15 years at 5-year intervals (i.e., 1978, 1983, 1988, and 1993). A sample of college students from the same, generally politically liberal, nonsectarian, selective, liberal arts institution completed the questionnaire each of the 4 years in which it was administered (Zern, 1997). A large number of students answered the questionnaire at each college grade level: 341,285, 290, and 221, respectively, from freshman to senior. Over the same time period, 7th-, 8th-, and 9th-grade students from two public schools participated in the study. Each school was heterogeneous in terms of race, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic level (Zern, 1997)."

The study was conducted through the use of a questionnaire and asked about the importance of various entities on the moral development of children and teens. The survey asked about the impact that family, school and others have on the development of morals in the study participants (Zern, 1997).

Examples of the survey questions included:

The importance that the family should have in the development of moral values on the elementary school age person is ____.

The most important influence of moral values in the elementary school age person should be the ____(Zern, 1997). "

The study was conducted over a 15-year period with a total of more than 2,000 responses (Zern, 1997).

The results of this research coincide well with existing literature on gender differences in moral development: Female respondents, unlike the male respondents, uniformly believed that authorities should be a source of influence in moral development (Zern, 1997). With respect to the overall authority score, the female respondents had a mean rating of 1.90; the comparable score for male respondents was only 1.78, t (2789) = 6.26, p [less than or equal to].001. Similarly, for each of the three authority figures separately across age levels, t scores were statistically significant at the.002 level or higher, with mean differences ranging from.08 (school), to.11 (family), to.15 (clergy); scores in all cases were higher for female respondents (Zern, 1997). The results for individual and peer influence show the same pattern; however, these results are not so easy to understand. The mean rating for girls on the importance of individual influence was significantly higher than that for the boys (2.55 to 2.49, respectively, df = 2788, p =.003), and, similarly, the girls gave significantly higher ratings for peer influence than the boys did: 1.87 to 1.72, respectively, df = 2791, p =.001(Zern, 1997). "


Moral development is the mainstay of society.…[continue]

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