As children age they experience a great deal of variance in their abilities related to the numerous aspects of life functioning (Robbins, Chaterjee, & Canda, 2012, p. 260-296). One aspect of functioning is that of moral reasoning. Throughout a person’s childhood, moral skills develop in relating to others and their surroundings. Moral development has been a popular topic of study for many years. Some theorists have developed tools to measure moral functioning. In order know the accuracy of these tools, experiments must be designed and implemented to test hypotheses and findings.
An extensive amount of research has been conducted throughout the years on how children develop morally. Moral development has been identified as a person’s sense of right and wrong and their ways of responding to ethical dilemmas (Tichy, Johnson, Johnson, & Roseth, 2010). There are many varying focuses on moral development. Some examples of this variance can be found in studies such as Tichy, Johnson, Johnson, and Roseth’s (2010) study on constructive controversy and moral development, Stifter, Cipriano, Conway, and Kelleher’s (2009) study on temperament and moral development, Passini’s (2010) study of culture and moral development, and Levenson’s (2009) study of gender and moral development. Though these researchers all play an important role in the study of moral development, the theorist most often associated with the subject is Lawrence Kohlberg (Robbins, Chaterjee, & Canda, 2012, p. 277-280).
Lawrence Kohlberg has accomplished many findings involving the moral development of children through extensive research (Robbins, Chaterjee, & Canda, 2012, p. 260-296). Kohlberg (1969) suggests that children move through unique stages of moral development. Each stage has distinct characteristics and Kohlberg suggests that each stage is sequential and cannot be skipped over. The six stages Kohlberg identified were categorized into three major levels including pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional (Passini, 2010). Kohlberg believed that variations of moral thinking and reasoning happened within the person’s identified stage and were insignificant. Each stage encompasses moral skills that are utilized in shaping the next (Rest, Turiel, & Kohlberg, 1969, p. 225-226). Sequential stages are not based on the learning of new moral information, but the rearrangement of moral knowledge already possessed.
Turiel (1969) wished to examine the Kohlberg’s idea of sequential development. He developed and implemented an experiment that would test this theory. Children were divided into three groups based on their moral stages. Each group was exposed to varying moral judgments. The first group was exposed to characteristics of a moral stage directly ahead of their current stage. The second group was exposed to moral characteristics of a moral stage two levels above their own. The third, and final, group was exposed to moral thinking one stage below their...