Factors Affecting Moral Development

Morality relates to standards that distinguish between right and wrong. When a child is as young as 2 years old, he is able to show morally based behaviors such as guilt, according to social worker Angela Oswalt on the Betty Hardwick Center’s website. While many areas of childhood development depend on internal and external factors, opinions among psychologists differ regarding which factors shape moral development more.
An Individual’s Gender
Psychologist Carol Gilligan states that an individual’s gender affects moral development. For example, women may innately care more about responsibilities, while men generally care more about rights and justice, according to the City University of New York. Psychologist Lawrence J. Walker agrees that gender can influence moral development and the morals that individuals value, but both genders have similar moral reasoning abilities.
Cognitive Development
The Psychoanalytic Theory states that moral development stems from a child’s cognitive development, according to the City University of New York. Jean Piaget argued that a young child’s normal egocentrism makes it difficult for her to take into account her own point of view and another’s view at the same time, so she is more likely to be more concerned with fair outcomes rather than intentions, according to StateUniversity.com. For example, the child cares about getting a cookie, not how the cookie got on her plate. She also knows that if she takes the cookie without asking, she’ll get into trouble. As a child’s ability to understand and solve problems improves as she matures, her moral development strengthens. Similarly, exposure to different points of view and opportunities to debate can help promote moral development.
  factors affecting moral development
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 factors affecting moral development
Talking with Adults
Adults influence the moral development of young people, according to Piaget. As a child matures and gains the ability to think critically, he decides which rules he likes and why. As a young person becomes less egocentric and more perceptive, he follows the rules to show mutual respect and demonstrate that he’s willing to cooperate. Piaget states that when an adult involves a child in decision-making and problem-solving tasks, she promotes moral development because both parties reach an understanding based on fairness. Walker found that children have a greater moral reasoning when participating in a family discussion. A parent can positively influence her kid’s moral development by talking to him about relevant moral dilemmas.
Cultural Expectations
A culture’s norms can influence a child’s moral development, according to psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg. He theorized that an individual differentiates between right and wrong based on the expectations of her society, family or friends so she can fulfill her societal duties. Kohlberg established the Domain Theory that states a child’s moral development grows as she differentiates between morality and social convention, and learns how her actions may affect others in regards to fairness, harm and welfare.

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