Essay, 2 pages (500 words)


Eisenberg’s Moral Development Model Eisenberg’s model for moral development is based on the idea that the moral reasoning of children is not predictable since a child can reason from various levels at the same time. Higher levels of reasoning may be found in young adolescents but they can use any level which they are capable of reasoning at. For example, a child who can use high level abstract reasoning does not always have to use it to answer moral questions (Eisenberg, 1989).
Eisenberg does however suggest that there are six levels which give similar importance to moral reasoning based on justice or care. The first level is self centered reasoning where a child may make a moral decision based on personal likes or dislikes, potential benefit or loss and future expectations. Preschool children or elementary school children may exhibit this level. The second level is based on the needs of the individual where the needs of the individual become important without requiring empathic feelings. Some preschool children and quite a lot of school age children exhibit this level (Eisenberg, 1989).
The third level of moral reasoning is based on stereotyped or approval based reasoning in which the child exhibits moral reasoning based on what s/he understands to be the social norm of good and bad. This moral reasoning may also be used to win approval from authority figures and is used by some school age children as well as adolescents. Older school age children and many adolescents jump to the level of empathic reasoning (fourth level) in which the individual can used empathy, the idea of role playing and understanding the position of others to make moral decisions. At this level, they may be aware of the emotional response of doing good things i. e. a positive feeling and not helping others i. e. feeling guilty (Eisenberg, 1989).
The fifth and sixth levels are partly internalised principles and strongly internalised principles. Under partly internalised principles the justification for the actions taken by a child are based on internalised values such as privacy, the rights of others, equality etc. and these ideas may not be clearly formed in the mind of the child. This operation level can be observed for a few adults and in some adolescents. With strongly internalised principles, the moral decisions made are always based on feelings that have been strongly internalised such as a need to improve the social conditions, or even the idea of fairness and even handedness. However, such a level is rarely found in young individuals.
Overall, I feel that the model presented by Eisenberg is quite useful since there is bound to be some overlap in how children develop therefore the flexibility of the model in terms of how children/adolescents can have overlaps is very important. Secondly, the idea of internalised feelings of right and wrong also support observations since moral values are always given to an individual and if they are internalised they are bound to manifest themselves as suggested by Eisenberg.
Works Cited
Eisenberg, N. 1989. ‘ The development of prosocial values’ in Eisenberg, N., Reykowski, J. & Staub, E. (Eds.). Social and moral values: Individual and social perspectives. Hillsdale.

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