Piaget 's Theory On Cognitive Development

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Adolescence is a time of several changes. During adolescence people learn to become more autonomous. They become less reliant on their parents and more on themselves. One way they become more autonomous is cognitively. Many psychologists who study moral development use Piaget’s theory on cognitive development. These studies emphasize the change in reasoning that is used in making moral decisions. Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg did a lot of research on the development of moral reasoning and expanded Piaget’s theory (Steinberg, 2008). He believed that moral development occurs in three levels and within those levels there are two distinct stages. At the first level, preconventional reasoning, there are the physical power stage and the instrumental relativism stage. In the physical power stage children focus heavily on punishments. In this stage, children are not as focused on the harm of the acts themselves, but whether or not there is a punishment associated with that act. In the instrumental relativism stage they are focused on rewards and “good” behaviors to them are whatever will be rewarded. At the next level, conventional reasoning, much of the focus is on social responsibility and law and order. The third stage, known as the good-boy/good-girl stage, individuals choose what behaviors are good or bad based on what will gain approval and make others happy. In the fourth stage, the law and order stage, people reason based on social order and set laws. It is one’s job to
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