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Moral Development “What is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.” – Ernest Hemingway.

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Presentation on theme: "Moral Development “What is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.” – Ernest Hemingway."— Presentation transcript:

1 Moral Development “What is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.” – Ernest Hemingway

2 Think on your own… What does it mean to have morals?
What is moral development? How do you know if you have morals?

3 This involves an interpersonal and intrapersonal dimension
Moral development involves changes in thoughts, feelings and behaviors regarding standards of right and wrong This involves an interpersonal and intrapersonal dimension

4 Morality

5 Moral development involves 4 questions:
How do individuals reason or think about moral decisions? How do individuals actually behave in moral circumstances? How do individuals feel about moral matters? What characterizes an individuals moral personality?

6 Piaget concluded that children go through two stages of how they think about morality
Younger children (4-7) display heteronomous morality Older children (10 and older) display autonomous morality

7 Piaget’s Theory of Moral Development
Heteronymous morality Autonomous morality Immanent justice Justice and rules are conceived of as unchangeable properties of the world, removed from the control of people (4-7 years) Becomes aware that rules and laws are created by people; in judging an action, one should consider actor’s intentions as well as consequences (10 years and older) If a rule is broken, punishment will be meted out immediately

8 Piaget’s Theory of Moral Judgment
Heteronomous thinking is typical of children younger than 7- or 8-years-old These children regard rules and duties to others as unchangeable “givens” Justice is whatever authorities say is right Authorities’ punishments are always justified Whether an action is good or bad is determined by the consequence of the action, not the motives or intentions behind it Acts that are not consistent with the rules are “bad” Acts that are consistent with the rules are “good” Children judge behavior in absolute terms: behavior is totally right or totally wrong. Everyone see and judges the morality of people and the behavior the same way they do. Children are inferior to adults because of fear, affection, and admiration. Morality easily conforms to the social pressures. Morality of constraint: Most characteristic of children who have not achieved the concrete-operational stage of development. Due to two factors; Social factor: Parental control of children is coercive and unilateral which leads to children’s unquestioning respect for adults and their rules. Cognitive factor: Children’s cognitive immaturity causes them to believe that rules are “real” things likes chairs or gravity. These rules exist outside people and are not the product of the human mind. PREMORAL PERIOD: birth to 3-4 years Have little understanding of what a rule is and what purpose it serves.

9 Piaget’s Theory of Moral Judgment
Autonomous morality (Moral relativism) is typical of children 12-years-old and older Children understand that rules are products of social interaction and agreement and can be changed if the majority of the group agrees to do so Punishments should fit the crime and punishments delivered by adults is not necessarily fair They consider the motives and intentions when evaluating whether an action is good or bad Fairness and equality are important factors to consider when constructing rules. Children alter rules to fit unusual situations. Rules are decisions made by those involved and can be changed at will as long as everyone agrees. With a higher level of moral reasoning comes the ability to see rules as changeable. Higher stages are superior to lower stages because they show greater understanding of society and thus are more socially adaptive.

10 Consider the following story, who is right or wrong? WHY?
On your own activity… Consider the following story, who is right or wrong? WHY?

11 If you are 6: Which girl do you think was more bad, Olivia or Melissa
If you are 6: Which girl do you think was more bad, Olivia or Melissa? If you are 10: Which girl do you think was more bad, Olivia or Melissa? One day, a girl named Olivia was playing with her mommy. Olivia decided that it would be fun to have a tea party with her mommy and her dolls. So, Olivia went into the kitchen and got a box of crackers and six tea cups. Olivia carefully arranged the tea cups on a tray, but while she reached for the box of crackers, the tray accidentally slipped out of her hands and the six cups smashed into pieces on the floor. Another girl, one named Melissa, was playing with her daddy. Melissa wanted to play marching band in the kitchen by clanging pot lids together. When her daddy said the he didn’t want to play marching band because it was too loud, Melissa became very upset. She was so angry that she grabbed a cup off the counter and threw it onto the floor, smashing it into pieces. According to Piaget, young children who are in a stage of moral realism, judge right and wrong by the consequences of one’s actions. Therefore, young children should say that Olivia is more bad because she broke more cups. These objective judgments give way to subjective judgments when children (around age 8) enter the stage of moral relativism. In this advanced stage, children consider motives when judging one’s actions.

12 According to Piaget, young children who are in a stage of moral realism, judge right and wrong by the consequences of one’s actions. Therefore, young children should say that Olivia is more bad because she broke more cups.

13 These objective judgments give way to subjective judgments when children (around age 8) enter the stage of moral relativism. In this advanced stage, children consider motives when judging one’s actions

14 Moral Reasoning – Kohlberg’s Theory
Moral development progresses through a series of stages that are discontinuous and hierarchical Each new stage reflects a qualitatively different, more adequate way of thinking than the one before it Older and more advanced thinkers SHOULD, on average, be more advanced in their moral development. This is usually how it works. Like Piaget, age-related advances in cognitive skills (especially perspective taking) are believed to underlie the development of higher-level moral judgments. People who have higher-level cognitive skills are better educated and exhibit higher-level moral judgment. Children who exhibit higher-levels of perspective taking than their peers score higher in their moral judgment.

15 Older and more advanced thinkers SHOULD, on average, be more advanced in their moral development

16 Higher-level moral reasoning
Like Piaget, age-related advances in cognitive skills (especially perspective taking) are believed to underlie the development of higher-level moral judgments. People who have higher-level cognitive skills are better educated and exhibit higher-level moral judgment. Children who exhibit higher-levels of perspective taking than their peers score higher in their moral judgment.

17 On your own activity… Read the following moral dilemma and reflect on why this was right or wrong. Also what reasoning can use apply to this story? Would you always have thought the way you do right now? What has changed?

18 Heinz, had a wife who was dying of cancer
Heinz, had a wife who was dying of cancer. A drug that might save her had been discovered by a local pharmacist, but he was charging $2000, ten times what the drug cost to make. It was far more money than Heinz had. Heinz went to everyone he knew to borrow the money but he could only get together about half of what the drug cost. He told the druggist his wife was dying, and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said, “No, I discovered the drug and I’m going to make money from it.” So Heinz got desperate and broke into the man’s store to steal the drug for his wife. Present the child with a hypothetical moral dilemma and then ask the children questions about the issues that are involved. What should the person have done? Was what was done right or wrong? Why? The REASONING behind the choices reflects the child’s level of moral reasoning rather than just the choices that the child makes. The second would be a display of higher levels of moral reasoning. Early stages: moral reasoning is based on external forces, such as the promise of reward or the threat of punishment. The most advanced stages: moral reasoning is based on a personal, internal moral code and is unaffected by others’ views or society’s expectations.

19 Was this moral? Which response is more advanced in terms of moral reasoning? He shouldn’t steal the drug because he’ll probably get caught and put in jail. He should steal the drug because he wants his wife to feel better and to live.

20 Were you right? Which response is more advanced in terms of moral reasoning? He shouldn’t steal the drug because he’ll probably get caught and put in jail. He should steal the drug because he wants his wife to feel better and to live.

21 How is stealing moral? The second would be a display of higher levels of moral reasoning. In the early stages, moral reasoning is based on external forces, such as the promise of reward or the threat of punishment. The most advanced stages, moral reasoning is based on a personal, internal moral code and is unaffected by others’ views or society’s expectations.

22 Three Levels of Moral Judgment
Preconventional Self-centered Focuses on getting rewards and avoiding punishments Conventional Centered on social relationships Focuses on compliance with social duties and laws Postconventional (Principled) Centered on ideals Focuses on moral principles Each of the three levels has two stages. Preconventional: Stage 1 and 2 are common among children and young adults but not older adolescents and adults. Children do not yet see themselves as participants in society’s rule-making process Children recognize that people have different opinions of right and wrong but when making moral decisions, they take into account their own interests and the mutual benefits of certain actions for people involves Conventional: Stage 3 and 4 are common among older adolescents and adults. Most adults’ moral reasoning is at Stage 3 or 4. Moral reasoning – getting along with and gaining approval from others Stressing the importance of living up to other’s expectations Postconventional: Most adults do not progress to the final stages of moral reasoning. Very few people ever get to stage 6 -- Most view stage 6 as an elaboration of stage 5. Human behavior is guided by higher principles of human conduct such as those described in the Constitution or the Ten Commandments Ruled by ethics Level 6 is more a theoretical stage – so few people (about 1% worldwide) – Kohlberg dropped it.

23 Preconventional Level Conventional Level Postconventional Level
Stages in Kohlberg’s Theory Preconventional Level Stage 1: Punishment and Obedience Orientation Stage 2: Instrumental and Exchange Orientation (Naïve Hedonism) Conventional Level Stage 3: Mutual Interpersonal Expectations, Relationships, and Interpersonal Conformity (Good Boy or Girl) Stage 4: Social System and Conscience Orientation (Maintaining Morality) Postconventional Level Stage 5: Social Contract or Individual Right Orientation Stage 6: Universal Ethical Principles Stages in Kohlberg’s Theory Preconventional Level: Punishment and Reward Stage 1: Obedience to authority Stage 2: Nice behavior in exchange for future favors Conventional Level: Social Norms Stage 3: Live up to others’ expectations Stage 4: Follow rules to maintain social order Postconventional Level: Moral Codes Stage 5: Adhere to a social contract when it is valid Stage 6: Personal morality based on abstract principles

24 Stage 1 Punishment and Obedience Orientation
Pro-stealing: If you let your wife die, you will get in trouble. You’ll be blamed for not spending the money to help her and there’ll be an investigation of you and the druggist for your wife’s death Anti-stealing: You shouldn’t steal the drug because you’ll be caught and sent to jail if you do. If you do get away, you’d be scared that the police would catch up with you any minute. Stage 1: People believe that adults know what is right and wrong. Consequently, a person should do what adults say is right to avoid being punished. Child does not consider the interests of others or recognize that they differ from his or her own interests. Blind obedience to authority. A person at this stage would argue that Heinz should not steal the drug because you’ll be caught and sent to jail if you do. And, if you do not get caught, your conscience will bother you thinking when the police will catch up to you. A person at this stage would argue that Heinz should steal the drug because if he lets his wife die, he’ll get in trouble. He’ll be blamed for not spending the money to save her and there will be an investigation of him and the druggist for his wife’s death.

25 During stage 1 people believe that adults know what is right and wrong.
Consequently, a person should do what adults say is right to avoid being punished. Child does not consider the interests of others or recognize that they differ from his or her own interests. People in this stage exhibit blind obedience to authority.

26 Stage 2 Naïve Hedonism Prostealing: The druggist can do what he wants and Heinz can do what he wants to do… But if Heinz decides to risk jail to save his wife, it’s his life he’s risking; he can do what he wants with it. And the same goes for the druggist; it’s up to him to decide what he wants to do. Antistealing: [Heinz] is running more risk than it’s worth to save a wife who is near death. Stage 2: People look out for their own needs. They often are nice to others because they expect the favor to be returned in the future. So it is a tit-for-tat exchange of benefits. Self-interest. “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” A person at this stage would say it was all right for Heinz to steal the drug because his wife might do something nice for him in return (that is, she might reward him). If you get caught, you will probably only have to serve a short sentence but at least your wife will be waiting for you when you get out. A person at this stage would say it is not all right for Heinz to steal the drug because if he gets caught he’ll go to jail. While in jail his wife might die so what was the point of stealing the drug.

27 “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”
In Stage 2 people look out for their own needs. They often are nice to others because they expect the favor to be returned in the future. So it is a tit-for-tat exchange of benefits. “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”

28 Stage 3 “Good Boy” or “Good Girl” Orientation
Prostealing: No one will think you’re bad if you steal the drug, but your family will think you’re an inhuman husband if you don’t. If you let your wife die, you’ll never be able to look anyone in the face again. Antistealing: It isn’t just the druggist who will think you’re a criminal, everyone else will too. After you steal it, you’ll feel bad thinking how you’ve brought dishonor on your family and yourself. Stage 3: Adolescents and adults believe they should act according to others’ expectations. The aim is to win the approval of others by behaving like “good boys” and “good girls.” Being good is important in itself and means having good motives, showing concern about others, and maintaining good relationships with others. People are judged by their intentions – meaning well is valued and being nice is important. A person at this stage would argue that Heinz should not steal the drug because then others would see him as an honest citizen who obeys the law. The druggist will think he’s a criminal and so will everyone else. He’ll bring dishonor to his family and himself. A person at this stage would argue that Heinz should steal the drug because no one will think he’s bad if you do it but your family might think your inhuman if you don’t. If you let your wife die, you’ll never be able to look at anyone in the face again.

29 Stage 3: Adolescents and adults believe they should act according to others’ expectations. The aim is to win the approval of others by behaving like “good boys” and “good girls.” Being good is important in itself and means having good motives, showing concern about others, and maintaining good relationships with others. People are judged by their intentions…meaning well is valued and being nice is important.

30 Stage 4 Social-Order Maintaining Morality
Prostealing: He should steal it. Heinz has a duty to protect his wife’s life; it’s a vow he took in marriage. But it’s wrong to steal, so he would have to take the drug with the idea of paying the druggist for it and accepting the penalty for breaking the law later. Antistealing: It’s a natural thing for Heinz to want to save his wife, but… Even if his wife is dying, it’s still his duty as a citizen to obey the law. No one else is allowed to steal, why should he be? If everyone starts breaking the law in a jam, there’d be no civilization, just crime and violence. Stage 4: Adolescents and adults believe that social roles, expectations, and laws exist to maintain order within society and to promote the good of all people. The individual is motivated to keep the social system going and to avoid a breakdown in its functioning. What is right is what conforms to the rules of legal authority – the reason for conforming is not fear of punishment but a belief that rules and laws maintaining a social order that is worth preserving. A person in this stage would argue that Heinz should steal the drug because a husband is obligated to do all that he possible can to save his wife’s life A person in this stage would argue that Heinz should not steal the drug because stealing is against the law and society must prohibit theft.

31 Stage 4: Adolescents and adults believe that social roles, expectations, and laws exist to maintain order within society and to promote the good of all people. The individual is motivated to keep the social system going and to avoid a breakdown in its functioning. What is right is what conforms to the rules of legal authority –the reason for conforming is not fear of punishment but a belief that rules and laws maintaining a social order that is worth preserving.

32 Stage 5 Social-Contract Orientation
Prostealing: Although there is a law against stealing, the law wasn’t meant to violate a person’s right to life. Taking the drug does violate the law, but Heinz is justified in stealing in this instance. If Heinz is prosecuted for stealing, the law needs to be reinterpreted to take into account situations in which it goes against people’s natural right to keep on living. Stage 5: Adults agree that members of cultural groups adhere to a “social contract” because a common set of expectations and laws benefit all group members. If these expectations and laws no longer promote the welfare of individuals, they become invalid. (The greatest good for the greatest number) Some values and rights are universal and must be upheld regardless of the majority such as life and liberty. Individuals view laws as instruments for expressing the will of the majority and furthering human welfare. Laws are social contracts that one has an obligation to follow but laws that compromise human rights or dignity are considered unjust and worthy of challenge. At this point it is hard to come up with a reason why Heinz should not steal the drug A person in this stage would reason that Heinz should steal the drug because social rules about property rights are no longer benefiting individual’s welfare. ----- Meeting Notes (9/15/11 14:53) -----

33 Stage 5: Adults agree that members of cultural groups adhere to a “social contract” because a common set of expectations and laws benefit all group members. If these expectations and laws no longer promote the welfare of individuals, they become invalid The greatest good for the greatest number… Some values and rights are universal and must be upheld regardless of the majority such as life and liberty.

34 Stage 6 Morality of Individual Principles of Conscience
Pro-stealing: If Heinz does not do everything he can do to save his wife, then he is putting some value higher than the value of life. It doesn’t make sense to put respect for property above respect for life itself. [People] could live together without private property at all. Respect for human life and personality is absolute and accordingly [people] have a mutual duty to save one another from dying. Stage 6: Abstract principles like justice (equality of human rights, respect for the dignity of each human being), compassion, and equality form the basis of a personal moral code that may sometimes conflict with society’s expectations and laws. When laws violate principles, the individual should act on principles not the law. Right and wrong are determined on the basis of self-chosen ethical principles. Principles are not concrete rules – they are abstract moral guidelines of universal justice and respect for the rights of all human beings. These principles transcend any law or social contract that is in conflict with them. A person in this stage would argue that Heinz should steal the drug because life is paramount and preserving life takes precedence over all other rights.

35 Stage 6: Abstract principles like justice (equality of human rights, respect for the dignity of each human being), compassion, and equality form the basis of a personal moral code that may sometimes conflict with society’s expectations and laws. When laws violate principles, the individual should act on principles not the law. Right and wrong are determined on the basis of self-chosen ethical principles. Principles are not concrete rules – they are abstract moral guidelines of universal justice and respect for the rights of all human beings. These principles transcend any law or social contract that is in conflict with them.

36 Do you understand Kohlberg’s stages of moral development?
Test your knowledge with the following activity

37 What level of moral reasoning is demonstrated by the shopper?
Shaking her head and frowning disapprovingly at the teenager who was slipping a candy bar from the shelf into the pocket of his jacket, a shopper lectured, “You know as well as I do that shoplifting is against the law. What if everyone just did what they wanted?” Stage 4 - Fulfilling duties and upholding the law to maintain social order. Motivated to keep the social system going and to avoid a breakdown in its functioning. What level of moral reasoning is demonstrated by the shopper?

38 The shopper is in Stage 4 - Fulfilling duties and upholding the law to maintain social order.
They are motivated to keep the social system going and to avoid a breakdown in its functioning.

39 What level of moral reasoning does this demonstrate?
Amy’s mother has insisted that Amy not eat snacks between meals. Now, if Amy should eat this Twinkie before dinner, she should be unhappy when thinking about how she would be disappointing her mother. Stage 3 - Amy has to be a “good girl.” Her good behavior is doing what is expected by people who are close to the person or what people generally expect of someone in a given role. What level of moral reasoning does this demonstrate?

40 Amy is in stage 3…she has to be a “good girl
Amy is in stage 3…she has to be a “good girl.” Her good behavior is doing what is expected by people who are close to the person or what people generally expect of someone in a given role.

41 Amy’s friend is using what level of moral reasoning?
Well, Amy ate the Twinkie. When talking with a friend about it the next day, Amy’s friend told her that she (Amy) was bad because her mother caught her eating snacks between meals and punished her for it. Stage 1 - Doing what is right is being obedient. The conscience is made up of fear of punishment and the moral action is motivated by the avoidance of punishment. The child does not consider the interests of others or see how someone else’s interests are different from their own. Amy’s friend is using what level of moral reasoning?

42 Amy’s friend is in Stage 1…she is being obedient
Amy’s friend is in Stage 1…she is being obedient. The conscience is made up of fear of punishment and the moral action is motivated by the avoidance of punishment. The child does not consider the interests of others or see how someone else’s interests are different from their own.

43 What level of moral reasoning are you demonstrating?
You are distressed when your boss asks you to charge a late fee to customers who miss the deadline. You believe that a late fee is clearly unjustified; late orders cause no real difficulty and cost the company no more to process than early orders. While you recognize the right of the company to make a profit, you insist that a late fee is not fair to the customer. Stage 5 - being right involves upholding rules that are in the best interest of the group. Rules should be impartial, and agreed upon by the group. If the rule no longer promotes the welfare of individuals, then the rules become invalid. What level of moral reasoning are you demonstrating?

44 You are in Stage 5 - being right involves upholding rules that are in the best interest of the group. Rules should be impartial, and agreed upon by the group. If the rule no longer promotes the welfare of individuals, then the rules become invalid.

45 What level of moral reasoning does this demonstrate?
Conversation overheard in a cafeteria line: “Why should I want to report the guy for failing to submit all the money we collected for the charity fund? Sure he kept some of it, but he shared it with me.” Stage 2 - what is right is based on the “tit-for-tat” principle. It involves an equal exchange between people. People look out for their own needs. They are nice to others because they expect the favor to be returned. What level of moral reasoning does this demonstrate?

46 They are nice to others because they expect the favor to be returned.
This person is in Stage 2 - what is right is based on the “tit-for-tat” principle. It involves an equal exchange between people. People look out for their own needs. They are nice to others because they expect the favor to be returned.

47 People with higher-level moral reasoning
Are more likely to assist others Are less likely to engage in delinquent activities Are more likely to behave in a moral manner Individuals at the preconventional and conventional levels would act morally when external forces demand, but otherwise they might not Individuals at the postconventional level would act morally even when external forces may not favor it High-school students who were judged by their teachers to have a greater moral courage tended to be more advanced in Kohlberg’s stages than students who were judged less courageous. Students who protest social conditions tend to have higher moral reasoning scores. Delinquent adolescents, whose actions are more likely to be morally offensive, tend to have lower moral reasoning scores than non-delinquent adolescents. Delinquent adolescents are more likely to emphasize punishment and reward in their moral reasoning, not social norms or personal moral codes.

48 Criticisms of Kohlberg’s Theory
It is culturally biased Does not apply to cultures outside a constitutional democracy Does not incorporate the concerns and experiences of non-Western people It is considered sexist Gilligan believes that he places women at a lower level of moral reasoning (stage 3, approval) than he does men (stage 4, law and order) For example: the Confucian principle of jen (love, benevolence, human-heartedness, perfect virtue) and the expression of parental obedience and family interdependence are not included in Kohlberg’s stages. Respect for all life is a moral principle which leads to the principle of nonviolence (ahimsa) in Hinduism which is overlooked by the theory.

49 Gilligan’s Ethic of Caring
Proposed a developmental progression in which individuals gain greater understanding of caring and responsibility First stage Children are preoccupied with their own needs Second stage People care for others, particularly those who are less able to care for themselves (like infants and aged) Third stage People care in all human relationships (with others and oneself) Gilligan argues that Kohlberg’s emphasis on justice applies more to men than to women -- women are more likely to have moral issues rooted in concern for others. So, according to Gilligan, men score higher on moral reasoning than do women. Moral reasoning becomes qualitatively more sophisticated as individuals develop - progressing through a number of distinct stages. So, at the end there is an emphasis on care (helping people in need) instead of justice (treating people fairly). According to some of the research, men and women reason about moral issues similarly. Both males and females often think about moral issues in terms of care and interpersonal relationships. Justice and care both serve as the basis for moral reasoning. The nature of the moral problem will determine whether justice, care, or both will be the basis of moral judgment. According to some of the research, Gilligan’s argument is supported. During adolescence and adulthood, females focus more on issues of caring about other people during moral judgments. Differences seem to be most evident when individuals report on dilemmas from their own lives.

50 Think about this Moral Dilemma
Two young men, brothers got into serious trouble. They were secretly leaving town in a hurry and needed money. Karl, the older one, broke into a store and stole a thousand dollars. Bob, the younger one, went to a retired old man who was known to help people in town. He told the man that he was very sick and that he needed a thousand dollars to pay for an operation. Bob asked the old man to lend him the money and promised that he would pay him back when he recovered. Really Bob wasn't sick at all, and he had no intention of paying the man back. Although the old man didn't know Bob very well, he lent him the money. So Bob and Karl skipped town, each with a thousand dollars. Think on your own…which is worse, stealing like Karl or cheating like Bob? Why?

51 When Does Aggression Emerge?

52 Social Understanding Children in this age begin to develop social understanding or social cognition, which is their understanding of the social world. This is a person’s awareness and understanding of human personality, emotions, intentions and actions. They start to realize that people are motivated by thoughts and emotions that are different than their own.

53 Empathy A person’s understanding of the emotions of another, including the ability to figure out what would make that person feel better. The child must be able to identify the emotions of others (to at least some degree) and understand that another person is feeling an emotion or is in some kind of need. This indicates a level of understanding of the self, usually not evident until age 4. Empathy: the child must be able to identify the emotions of others (to atleast some degree) and understand that another person is feeling an emotion or is in some kind of need. Children who deeply feel another’s fear, disappointment, sorrow, or loneliness are more inclined to help that person than children who do not feel these emotions. If a girl sees another child who is sad or injured, and as a consequence, feels sad herself. In order for Ezra to understand that Ned needed comforting, it was necessary for Ezra to feel empathy with Ned’s unhappiness. To realize that he was hurt and warranted sympathy.

54 At a city playground, 4-year-old Ezra sees his playmate Ned trip, fall, and begin to cry. Ezra goes to Ned, telling him not to feel bad, and offers to push him on a swing. In order for Ezra to understand that Ned needed comforting, it was necessary for Ezra to feel empathy with Ned’s unhappiness. -To realize that he was hurt and warranted sympathy.

55 What would you do in your life if money was no object?

56 0: Does not describe me very well --- 4: Describes me very well
How Empathic Are You? Answer on a scale of 0 to 4 0: Does not describe me very well : Describes me very well Before criticizing somebody, I try to imagine how I would feel if I were in his or her place. If I’m sure I’m right about something, I don’t waste much time listening to other people’s arguments. I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective. I believe that there are two sides to every question and try to look at them both. I sometimes find it difficult to see things from the “other guy’s” point of view. I try to look at everybody’s side of a disagreement before I make a decision. When I’m upset at someone, I usually try to “put myself in his shoes” for a while. When I see someone being taken advantage of, I feel kind of protective toward him. When I see someone being treated unfairly, I sometimes don’t feel much pity for him. I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me. I would describe myself as a pretty softhearted person. Sometimes I don’t feel very sorry for other people when they have problems. Other people’s misfortunes do not usually disturb me a great deal. I am often quite touched by things that I see happen. One of the best ways in which parents can assist their children to develop morally conscious behavior is to help them develop a sense of empathy. Questions 1 through 7 compose the “perspective taking” scale and reflect an ability to shift perspectives or to step outside the self when dealing with other people. Reverse the scores on 2 and 5, and then add the scores on questions 1 through 7. Scores between indicate empathic perspective-taking abilities. Questions 8 through 14 reflect the “empathic concern” scale and assess the degree to which you experience feelings of warmth, compassion, and concern for another. Reverse items 9, 12, and 13, and then add the scores on questions 8 through 14. Scores between indicate empathic concern for others. From: M.H. Davis (1980). A Multidimensional approach to individual differences in empathy.


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