Developmental Psychology
Lecture 10 notes


Assignment information
Course Outline
Lecture 1
Lecture 2
Lecture 3
Lecture 4
Lecture 5
Lecture 6
Lecture 7
Lecture 8
Lecture 9
Lecture 10
Lecture 10 notes
Child Abuse graphs from Lecture 10
Lecture 11
Test 1 Marks
Test 2 Marks
Paper Grades

Lecture 10 is posted online since Alexis was unable to lecture for the full three hours

1. Morality

Emotional component

-powerful feelings cause us to empathize with anothers distress or feel guilty when we are the cause of their distress

-mentioned in lecture on emotions, a deficit in understanding other people's emotions = psychopaths, dont feel guilt, partly because they dont understand that they are victimizing/hurting someone


Cognitive component

-children's developing social understandings permits them to make more profound judgements about actions they believe to be right or wrong


Behavioural component

-experiencing morally relevant thoughts and feelings only increases the chances, but does not guarantee, that people will act in accord with them


1.1. Self-control

- the ability to rise above immediate pressures and not give in to impulse

-one of the first steps towards moral behaviour

 Three phases of self-control (Kopp)

At about one year - children realize people impose demands on them, they realize they are not entirely free to behave as they wish, others set limits

At about two years - children have internalized some of the controls imposed by others, know not to touch fireplace, may wait and watch another child playing with a toy that they want

At about three years - children are capable of self-regulation, formulate simple plans for dealing with the demands of the situation, distract themselves

-consistency of self control, described in your text, while it varies, children with good self-control on one task are more likely to have good self-control on others

-stability of self-control over time, again in your text, strong correlations throughout childhood


Parental Influences of self-control

-Bandura's findings of modeling self-control as described in your text book,

-children imitated the adults behaviour, children exposed to a role model who delayed gratification also delayed their choices

-correlational studies of parents behaviour and childrens self-control

-slightly different findings than you'd expect from Bandura's study

-children whose parents were very strict with them were lower in self-control


Tempermental Influences of self-control

-temperament helps determine childs level of self-control

-children who are very emotional have more trouble regulating their behaviour

-temperament also influences how child responds to parent's efforts to teach self-control

 -fearful children's self-regulation described with a study covered in some detail in your text

Improving self-control

-remind yourself of the importance of the long-term goals

-reduce the attraction of the tempting event or object

-engage in activities to divert attention away from the tempting event or object


1.2 Morality as Social Understanding, Reasoning about moral issues

-this is the cognitive-developmental perspective

-cognitive maturity and social experience lead to advances in moral understanding from a superficial orientation to physical power and external consequences to a more profound appreciation of interpersonal relationship, society and laws


1.2.1. Piaget's Theory of Moral Development

-Piaget was very interested in moral development and used open ended questions with children age 5 to 13 in Switzerland asking about their understanding of rules in the game of marbles

-would present a situation of someone who had broken the rules and ask them about that

-ages 5 to 7, in a period of moral realism, unquestioningly follow rules, assuming the groups who made them (parents, teachers, God) handed them down as unchangeable, requiring strict obedience

-part of this understanding is the notion of immanent justice, breaking a rules will always lead to punishment, bad things happen to people who break rules

-about age 8 children progress to moral relativism, an understanding that rules are made by people to help each other cohabitate, they are not immutable or perfect

1.2.2. Kohlberg's Extension of Piaget's Theory

- Kohlberg, like Piaget used clinical interviews to study moral development but rather than ask people to judge someone elses naughtiness, he presented unresolved moral dilemmas and asked them what they think the person in the situation should do

Kohlberg's moral dilemma:

"In Europe, a woman was near death from cancer. There was one drug the doctors thought might save her. A druggist in the same town had discovered it, but he was charging ten times what the drug cost him to make. The sick womans husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow money, but he could only get together half of what it cost. The druggist refused to sell it cheaper or let Heinz pay later. So Heinz got desperate and broke into the mans store to steal the drug for his wife. Should Heinz have done that? Why or why not?"

Kohlberg's Stages


-punishment and rewards dominates sense of right & wrong

-morality is externally controlled

-children accept the rules of authority figures

-behaviour that results in punishment are bad

-behaviour that results in rewards are good

Stage 1: The punishment and obedience orientation

-ignore people's intentions; focus on fear of authority and avoidance of punishments as reasons for behaving morally

Stage 2: The instrumental purpose orientation

-understand two people may have different perspectives in a situation

-Satisfying personal needs determines moral choice

-very concrete understanding


-laws' and society's needs are the defining feature

-don't steal b/c against the law

-maintaining the affection and approval of friends and relatives motivates good behaviuor

-understand that standards are set for the current social system, not getting that there is self-interest involved (e.g., no such thing as a bad law)

Stage 3: The "good boy-good girl" orientation

-morality of interpersonal cooperation

-people obey rules to promote social harmony

-you will be judged for breaking the rules it isn't just the druggist who will think that youre a criminal, everyone else will and youll feel bad afterwards

-justifies moral conformity

Stage 4: The social-order-maintaining orientation

-each member of society is duty-bound to uphold rules, rules are vital fro ensuring societal order


-personal moral beliefs and values

Stage 5: The social-contract orientation

-laws and rules are more flexible

-they can understand the alternatives to their social order, emphasize fair procedures


Stage 6: The universal ethical principle orientation

- the correct action is defined by self-chosen ethical principles of conscience that are valid for all humanity, regardless of law and social agreement

-values are more abstract and internal


 Support for Kohlberg's Theory

-older and more advanced thinkers are on average more advanced in their moral development

-individuals do progress through each stage in sequence; virtually no individuals skip any stages.  No regression to a previous stage.

-mixed support for the idea that all individuals advance through all 6 stages


Criticisms of Kohlbergs Theory

-dilemmas don't reflect the types of  dilemmas that children and adolescents really face (see Eisenberg dicussed below)

-cultural bias of Kohlberg's research

           -moral reasoning is cultural-specific

-some evidence 1st four stages are universals across cultures

-cross-cultural variance in final two stages

-problem with this research may be the hypothetical stories used to test it

            -women needs life saving drug, man cant afford it, druggist wont drop price, should he steal it

            -in some countries, medicine not controlled by druggist but doctor or government

            -where medicine is in short supply, bribes may be a normal part of life, not unusual decision or moral, just a way of life


1.2.3. Gilligan's ethic of caring

-research on Kohlberg suggests that there may be sex differences in moral reasoning

-Carol Gilligan (1982) is the lead researcher arguing that moral reasoning was developed from a male perspective and does not adequately represent the morality of girls and women

-rather than the stress on justice seen in levels 4-6 of Kohlberg, people may be influenced by a concern for others

-the ethic of caring is a different not less valid basis for moral judgements than a focus on impersonal rights

-this argument is made that justice is a masculine ideal and too little emphasis on care and responsiveness, a feminine ideal, is considered in moral research

-both men and women respond to the ethic of caring and it should be included in our definition of a highly moral person


1.2.4. Eisenbergs Levels of Prosocial reasoning

-another criticism of Kohlberg's theories

-Notice that in the Heinz dilemma Heinz has no option but to either break the law or fail to help his wife

-Eisenberg = in most situations the real dilemma is choosing between the cost is not satisfying one's own needs and desires


-Nancy Eisenberg created dilemmas that do not make reference to laws but instead pit satisfying ones own desires against acting prosocially (for example, going to a birthday party versus taking time to help an injured peer and thus miss the party)


One day a girl named Mary was going to a friend's birthday party. On her way she saw a girl who had fallen down and hurt her leg. The girls asked Mary to go to her house and get her parents so the parents could come and take her to the doctor. But if Mary did run and get the child's parents, she would be late for the birthday party and miss the ice cream, cake and all the games. What should Mary do? Why? (Eisenberg, 1982, pg. 231)


-children's prosocial moral reasoning about such dilemmas is clearly advanced when compared with Kohlbergs stages

-it occurs over 6 levels

-defined prosocial behaviour as action intended to aid or benefit another person

- found as children develop they become less egocentric

-become more abstract in reasoning about prosocial questions

- more oriented toward, and aware of, others needs


-Prosocial reasoning dilemmas bring out an "empathic" form of moral reasoning

- attempted to bring together the cognitive, affective and behavioural components of morality

Empathetic orientation

 In Eisenberg's model, the higher levels are found only in older children, but children can use any of the levels for which they are capable. A child who can use high-level abstract reasoning doesn't have to use it.

Eisenberg's model gives equal value to justice-oriented and caring-oriented moral reasoning. The six levels are:

  1. Self-centered reasoning.

-pursuing own pleasure

-At this level the individual is concerned with consequences to oneself. One may choose to assist or not assist because of (a) personal benefit or loss; (b) the expectation of reciprocity; (c) one needs the other, or likes or dislikes the other. This level is frequently used by preschoolers and early elementary-school children.

  1. Needs-oriented reasoning.

-concerned with needs of others and want to help, example, setthe table because she likes to be a helper

-Concern for the needs is expressed, without role-taking or empathy, even though there may be a conflict with one's own needs. Some preschoolers and many school-age children use this mode of reasoning.

  1. Stereotyped and/or approval-oriented reasoning.

- behaving as they think society expects good people to behave

-This level involves stereotyped ideas of good/bad people and good/bad behavior and the desire to win approval. This level is used by some school-aged children and adolescents.

  1. Empathetic reasoning.

-consider others perspective and how their own actions would make them feel

-The individual can use some role-taking, empathy, and recognition of the other's humanness. There is awareness of the emotional consequences of helping (feeling good) or not helping (feeling guilty). This is the common level for a few older school-age children and many adolescents.

  1. Partly internalized principles.

-Justifications for actions involve internalized values (e.g., concern for others' rights).

-the ideas are not clearly thought out or strongly stated.

-This is the common mode for a few adolescents and adults.

  1. Strongly internalized principles.

-Justifications for actions are based on strongly-felt internalized values (e.g., wanting to improve society, belief in equality of all).

-Emotional consequences involve self-respect and living up to one's own values.

-This form of reasoning is rare.

1.3.  Helping others

Prosocial behaviour actions that benefit others

Altruism a type of prosocial behaviour that helps another with no direct benefit to the individual
-can be seen as early as 18 months of age

Skills underlying Prosocial behaviour:

- Perspective taking

-have to overcome the cognitive deficit of egocentrism

- Empathy

-experience another person's emotions

-talked about it last week when discussing psychopaths

- Moral reasoning

-children originally make prosocial decisions based on punishment and reward, as they begin to make moral decisions on the basis of fairness and justice they become more prosocial

Situational influences affecting Prosocial behaviour:

-when are children most likely to help?

-feelings of responsibility: do children feel a bond to the person in need
-feelings of competence: if they feel they have the skills necessary to help
-mood: not able to do it if they are feeling sad or a failure
-cost of altruism: more likely to be altruistic if it entails few or modest sacrifices (more likely to share fruit than cake)

 3. Aggression

-defined as behaviour meant to harm others

Forms of Aggression:

bullying aggression is unprovoked

instrumental aggression used to achieve an explicit goal; aggression aimed at obtaining an object, privilege, or space with no deliberate intent to harm another person

hostile aggression intended to harm another person


overt aggression = a form of hostile aggression that harms others through physical injury or the threat of such an injury (more likely to be seen in boys than girls)


reactive aggression one childs behaviour leads to another childs aggression


relational aggression children try to hurt others by undermining their social relationships ; a form of hostile aggression that damages anothers peer relationships (more likely to be seen in girls than boys)

-we once thought girls were less aggressive than boys



-stability of aggression -  From middle childhood on, aggression is a highly stable personality characteristic. . .

-see the graph in your textbook, teachers rated the aggressive behaviour of more than one thousand 10-year-old boys, their ratings predicted subsequent criminal activity


Impact of the family on Aggression

-parents use of harsh physical punishment
-parents who are coercive, unresponsive, and emotionally uninvested
-relationships with siblings

Impact of TV on Aggression

-children spend more time watching TV than any other activity except sleep
-does TV violence translate to viewer violence?

-Bandura's study - classic study with "bobo" the clown, children watched shows showing adults kicking and hitting the doll, when they were given the opportunity to play with the doll, those who had seen the program were more likely to behave aggressively toward the doll

-correlational studies have found that frequent exposure to TV violence is related to childrens aggressive behaviour

 -still a very controversial area of research, we have a lot of offensive material in the media today and no one wants a child to not be held responsible because they saw it first on TV but we cant ignore the correlations that quantity and quality of TV viewing can influence behaviour

Cognitive Processes and Aggression

-aggressive individuals lack skills to interpret and respond to others intentions

-they respond aggressively by default

-training in these skills has been found to improve their social behaviour