Children's moral development examined through Kohlberg's hypothetical dilemmas and fables
The purpose of this study is to investigate children's development of moral reasoning on the basis of Kohlberg's theory. The study consists of two main studies, using different methods. In the first study using Kohlberg's hypothetical dilemmas, Form A, a total of 128 Korean and British children aged 7 to 16 years participated in order to investigate the development of moral stages, use of moral orientations, differences in chosen issues, and unscorable responses with Kohlberg's criteria judgments. The second study has been conducted to supplement the findings of the first study through using fables as an alternative method. Unlike the first study, however, the second study focused on only Korean children's moral development so that 160 Koreans aged 7 to 16 years were examined in terms of the moral stages, use of moral orientations, and unscorable responses through analysing their spontaneous responses to fables. In addition, their ability to generate morals from fables was also explored in order to provide further information on children's moral development and ascertain the use of fables as an alternative method to assess moral development. As a result, the children in both studies showed similar developmental trends in moral stages regardless of their gender and cultural background. Regarding moral orientations, the findings indicate that the children's use of moral orientations also developed with age and that academic achievement level could affect development. Besides, the children tended to use the orientations differently according to cultural background. Cultural differences were also found in the chosen issues. Some responses unscorable with Kohlberg's system imply that there are some concepts peculiar to Koreans and hence that Kohlberg's theory of moral development is applicable but insufficient for Korean children even at young ages. Thus, the present suggests that not only Kohlberg's theory but also other theories such as theories of domain specificity and cultural psychology should be considered in order to fully understand the moral development. Lastly, the lack of ability of the 7 year old children to generate morals from fables suggests that it might be better to use modified fables rather than fables intact as an alternative method, especially with young children.