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Morals: Nature Vs. Nurture Essay

2467 words - 10 pages

Morals: Nature vs. Nurture
In psychology the story of Heinz has been widely known. A European man whose wife was sick with cancer, Heinz needed to purchase a drug that would help his wife. however, the drug cost $2000. Determined to help his wife, Heinz did all he could to raise as much money as possible but could only come up with half. With no other options left, Heinz broke into the druggist’s office to steal the medicine for his wife. This story leads perfectly into the debate on nature versus nurture as it pertains to morality. Was Heinz justified in what he did because of the situation he was in, or were bad morals instilled within him from the very beginning? In other words, is there more of a contribution from social expectations to moral development than genetic expectations? From young childhood through young adulthood, individuals are molded by parents, siblings, teachers, peers, society, media, and our environments. These socialization or nurturing related factors far outweigh genetics or nature related factors when it comes to morality. Theories and studies created by famous psychologists Kohlberg and Piaget, whose theories are still used in textbooks today, genetic studies done by biologists, as well as studies done in other cultures, their societies, and what is morally acceptable to them help to prove this.
Piaget, a Swiss developmental psychologist from the early 1900s, created a three stage theory of morality in children. Jean Piaget’s theory of moral development was one of the first created and is still taught in psychology classes today. These three stages are known as the the preoperational stage, the concrete stage, and the formal operations stage. Piaget’s first stage corresponds to children age’s two to seven and is based on unyielding obedience to authority. He says, “Children believe that rules cannot be bent or changed, that behavior is either right or wrong, and that any offense deserves to be punished, regardless of intent” (Papalia, Olds, and Feldman 296). His second stage corresponds to children seven or eight to ten or eleven. It is characterized by what Piaget calls “increasing flexibility” (296). This means that at this stage children come into more contact with people and viewpoints, allowing them to see that there is more than just right or wrong. Fairness and equal treatment for all also come into play during this stage. Children become able to consider more than one aspect of a situation and can now make more thoughtful moral judgments. Piaget’s final stage corresponds to children around eleven or twelve years of age. Around this age period formal reasoning develops, and the idea of equal treatment for all is replaced by the idea of equity, or something that is fair and just. In order to prove his theory, Piaget created a study. He would tell numerous children that were in the age range his theory was developed upon a story of two boys. In the story one boy notices that his father’s inkpot is low so he...

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