Copyright

Preconventional Morality: Definition & Concept

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Advance Directives for Health Care: A Guide for Nurses

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Stages of Moral Development
  • 0:57 Preconventional Morality
  • 1:44 Phase 1: Obedience &…
  • 2:09 Phase 2: Self- Interest
  • 2:51 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dr. Douglas Hawks

Douglas has two master's degrees (MPA & MBA) and is currently working on his PhD in Higher Education Administration.

According to the American psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg, we all go through different stages of moral development. In this lesson, you'll learn about the concept of preconventional morality and then have the chance to test your understanding with a short quiz.

Stages of Moral Development

Lawrence Kohlberg was an American psychologist who lived in the 20th century. Because of his interest in how different age groups dealt with moral dilemmas, he wrote his PhD dissertation on the idea that humans go through a learning process to develop morality.

We define morality as the ability to tell the difference between right and wrong. According to Kohlberg, there are three stages of moral development, each with two phases. These three stages are preconventional morality, conventional morality, and postconventional morality.

Kohlberg's hypothesis was that everyone needs to go through these phases in order to get to the higher stage of postconventional morality. Individuals at the highest stage really understand morality and consistently demonstrate moral behavior.

Preconventional Morality

The stages of moral development in Kohlberg's model can be loosely tied to different age groups. Because human beings learn from their social surroundings, they generally progress through these stages at roughly the same age. There are, of course, outliers.

As the first stage in moral development, preconventional morality is essentially the approach to right and wrong taken by children. Children often make moral decisions based on how it will impact them. When they make good decisions, or don't make bad decisions, it is less about principles or values and more about some sort of reinforcement they receive. In preconventional morality, the focus is on individual consequences in determining right and wrong. According to Kohlberg, there are two phases of preconventional morality.

Phase One - Obedience and Punishment

In phase one of preconventional morality, the morality of a decision is based completely on the direct consequences to the individual. When a child chooses not to hit someone on the playground because they know they will get in trouble, they are protecting themselves by not hitting someone else. Their decision has nothing to do with respect for others or self-discipline - it is simply a decision to avoid punishment.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Free 5-day trial

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support