Chapter 7: Psychological/Trait Theories of Crime

Lawrence Kohlberg—Moral Development

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Lawrence Kohlberg—Moral Development

Level of Moral Development

Stage of Reasoning


Stage 1: Right is obedience to power and avoidance of punishment.

Stage 2: Right is taking responsibility and leaving others to be responsible for themselves.


Stage 3: Right is being considerate: “uphold the values of other adolescents and adults’ rules of society at large.”

Stage 4: Right is being good, with the values and norms of family and society at large.


Stage 5: Right is finding inner “universal rights” balance between self-rights and societal rules—a social contract.

Stage 6: Right is based on a higher order of applying principles to all human-kind; being non-judgmental and respecting all human life.

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