Values and Moral Development

  • David Fontana
Part of the Psychology for Professional Groups book series


Our discussion of attitudes in the last chapter brings us on to the broader issue of morals and values. Morals and values refer to those attitudes and behaviours that are generally prized by the society in which one lives. They may or may not be defined by rules, and these rules may or may not carry the force of law, but they are nevertheless seen by responsible members of society as having a binding effect in matters of conduct and of interpersonal relationships. These morals and values may be derived from religious, philosophical, or political teachings, and usually they have had an important influence upon the historical development of the society concerned, providing guidelines for the emergence of civilized patterns of behaviour and even (ostensibly) for dealings with other countries. Sometimes, within a society, sub-groups become apparent which differ from each other in the morals and values held (e.g. religious groups, socio-economic status groups), and this can lead to friction and to attempts to put down opposing value systems by force.


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  1. Kohlberg, L. (1969) Stage and sequence: the cognitive-developmental approach to socialisation. In D. Goslin (ed.), Handbook of Socialisation Theory and Research. Chicago: Rand McNally.Google Scholar
  2. Piaget, J. (1932) The Moral Judgement of the Child. New York: Harcourt, Brace, & World.Google Scholar

Annotated reading

  1. Kohlberg, L. (1964) Development of moral character and ideology. Review of Child Development Research, Volume 1, New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  2. Kohlberg, L. (1969) Stage and sequence: the cognitive-development approach to socialisation. In D. Goslin (ed.), Handbook of Socialisation Theory and Research. Chicago: Rand McNally. Kohlberg’s ideas on moral development can be approached through his own work, especially these two.Google Scholar
  3. Piaget, J. (1932) The Moral Judgement of the Child. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Presents Piaget’s work on moral development.Google Scholar
  4. Wright, D.S. (1971) The Psychology of Moral Behaviour. Harmondsworth: Penguin. This is a very good general text on moral development.Google Scholar
  5. Ausubel, D. and Sullivan, E. (1970) Theory and Problems of Child Development (2nd edn). New York: Grune & Stratton. Contains some useful references.Google Scholar
  6. Lockwood, A. (1978) The effects of values clarification and moral development curricula on school-age subjects: a critical review of recent research. Review of Educational Research, 48, 325–364. A good survey of school programmes designed to enhance moral development.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Purpel, D. and Ryan, K. (eds) (1976) Moral Education … It Comes With The Territory. Berkeley: McCutchan. Also of value in this context.Google Scholar
  8. Rest, J. (1974) Developmental psychology as a guide to value education: a review of ‘Kohlbergian’ programs. Review of Educational Research, 44, 241–259. A review which concentrates particularly upon Kohlberg and developmental psychology.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Additional reading

  1. Wilson, J. (1972) Practical Methods of Moral Education. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  2. May, P.R. (1971) Moral Education in Schools. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  3. Sugarman, B. (1973) The School and Moral Development. London: Croom Helm. The above three books each provide a good introduction to the practicalities of moral education in schools. All three are highly recommended.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The British Psychological Society 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Fontana

There are no affiliations available

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