Cultural Differences in Moral
You will summarize the assigned readings and devise a lesson plan in the context of higher
education. Teaching skills are essential in academia. Reading for comprehension is one thing,
and reading for the purpose of teaching is another. You will be given opportunities to read for the
purpose of teaching in the context of higher education while thinking about and devising plans
for how to deliver of the content of the readings.
1. While completing the assigned readings for the Module: Week, think about which topic
to cover in your lecture for college students. State your topic and come up 3-4 objectives.
The first heading in the paper should be “Topic and Objectives.” When listing objectives,
start with “After this lecture, students will be able to…”
2. The second heading should be “Summary of the Lecture Content.” Citing the assigned
readings (with pages as necessary), summarize the content to be delivered in class. Your
summary should be at least 2 pages, double-spaced. Do not go over 3 pages. The goal is
not to discuss all of the details to be discussed in class but to summarize the lecture
content noting the most important concepts in a coherent manner (showing their
connections to the overall topic and objectives).
3. Provide a 2-page, double-spaced, lesson plan for an hour-long lecture on the chosen
topic. You can be creative here, but provide an outline of the lecture followed by concrete
in-class activity/discussion ideas.
1. This assignment is for your future teaching opportunities, so think concretely about your
teaching context as a doctoral-level instructor and make it as useful for you as possible.
2. Use current APA format with appropriate citations and headings as well as a reference
page, but do not include the title and abstract.
Please see the Summary and Lesson Plan page under the Summary and Lesson Plan
Resources for a link to Bloom’s Taxonomy information to consider as your write your
Note: Your assignment will be checked for originality via the Turnitin plagiarism tool.
CH. 12 (Moral Lives Across Cultures)
Perspectives on Moral Development and Moral Diversity
The propositions that persons develop in cultures and that cultural arrangements frame
their moral lives are not controversial. Deep disagreements do exist, however, concerning
what cultures are like and what it means to say that culture frames moral development.
Divergent views on those issues translate, in turn, into critically different understandings
of the nature of the diversity of moral experiences across cultures.
Our perspective on moral development in culture is grounded in a developmental
theory that posits that persons develop moral and other social concepts through participation
in and reflection on social interactions of different kinds (Turiel, 1998). It is also
informed by a view of cultures (e.g., Gjerde, 2004) as historical constructs created and
sustained in the context of collaborations, disagreements, power clashes, and contested
meanings among individuals—men and women, adults and children, haves and have-nots.
We thus hold that cultures are multifaceted environments that offer people opportunities
for diverse kinds of social interactions. Rather than being products of their culture and
exchangeable copies of other members of their culture, people in cultures try to make sense
of their experiences, disagree with one another about the meanings and value of these
experiences, assume critical roles toward them and, at times, attempt to resist or subvert
their culture’s norms and practices, and may even succeed in changing them.
This perspective contrasts with propositions centered on the cultural determination
of development—propositions typically grouped under the broad umbrella of “cultural
psychology” (Greenfield, Keller, Fuligni, & Maynard, 2003; Kitayama, Duffy, & Uchida,
2007; Shweder & Sullivan, 1993). Although those propositions differ from one another
in meaningful ways, they also share key assumptions about culture and development that
are of consequence to the study of moral development in culture. From the viewpoint
of cultural psychology, cultures are all-embracing constructs that form relatively coherent
patterns of thought and action, with the patterns of one culture differing from another Persons are
predisposed to participate in culture and to accept and reproduce their
culture’s main features. Thus, the psychology of individuals is said to be structured in The
dominant cultural pattern is communicated to the members of a culture via a number of
mechanisms, such as explicit instruction (Kitayama, Conway, Pietromonaco, Park, & Plaut,
2010), exposure to
cultural messages conveyed through avenues such as the media and literature (Morling &
Lamoreaux, 2008), and participation in cultural practices and socially prescribed forms of
behavior (Rogoff, 1990). The end result of these processes is assumed to be that members
of cultures form a shared commitment to goals and values—indeed, a shared “culture.”
CH. 13 (The Early Ontogeny of Human Cooperation and Morality)
The seminal work in the modern study of children’s moral development is Piaget’s
(1932/1997) The Moral Judgment of the Child. As is well known, Piaget claimed that before
the age of 8 or 9 years children make moral judgments based only on a respect for
authority and the social norms emanating from this authority—and so they are not really
autonomous moral agents. But, as is also well known, Piaget focused exclusively on the
explicit moral judgments that children were capable of formulating in language. Kohlberg’s
extension of Piaget’s framework (e.g., Colby & Kohlberg, 1987; Kohlberg, 1969,
1976) also asked children to express their reasoned moral judgments linguistically, and also
found that preschool children were essentially premoral (i.e., preconventional).
Turiel and colleagues (Killen, 1991; Smetana, 2006; Turiel, 2006; Turiel, Killen, &
Helwig, 1987) contested the Piaget–Kohlberg picture of preschoolers as premoral or
preconventional. In their theory and research, 3- to 6-year-old children already understand a
good deal about morality; specifically, they distinguish moral norms from social conventions,
judging that only moral norms are obligatory, universally applicable, and not derived
from adult authority. Thus, while a boy might find it silly to wear a dress, he could do so
if an adult authorized it or if he belonged to another culture in which it was acceptable,
but it would be wrong for him to hit an innocent child, even if an adult authorized it
and even in other cultures. Much data support this view of preschool children as at least
somewhat competent in their judgments about morality (for reviews, see Smetana, 2006;
Work from the past few decades has thus established that moral understanding begins
early in development, certainly far earlier than Piaget and Kohlberg proposed, and concerns
quite subtle and differentiated judgments. But all of this research has been almost
exclusively cognitive (or social–cognitive) in nature. In contrast, in this chapter, we approach
children’s early moral development from a somewhat different starting point. Following trends in
moral philosophy and moral psychology, we consider children’s moral
development in its evolutionary context. This means, first of all, that there is a focus not
only on moral cognition and judgment but also on moral action. In evolutionary theory,
action is always the primary level of analysis because natural selection only “sees” and “acts
CH. 14 (A Cultural Psychology Perspective on Moral Development)
Culture is central to morality, with culture including not only prescriptions about behavior but
also meanings and practices that form part of everyday social reality (e.g., D’Andrade, 1984;
Strauss & Quinn, 1997). As Shweder (1999) notes, culture involves “community specific ideas
about what is true, good, beautiful and efficient that are . . . constitutive of different ways of
life, and play a part in the self-understanding of members of the community” (p. 212). Despite
culture’s centrality to psychological experience, however, theorists of moral reasoning tend to
downplay the significance of cultural differences in moral reasoning. From the social domain
perspective (e.g., Turiel, 1983, 2002), cultural variation is seen as arising primarily from
contrasting informational assumptions and as not reflecting basic differences in moral values.
Cultural research by social domain theorists is undertaken primarily to provide evidence for the
universality of social domain distinctions and of certain basic moral concerns (e.g., Neff, 2003;
Nucci, 1997; Nucci, Turiel, & Encarnacion-Gawrych, 1983; Song, Smetana, & Kim, 1987; Yau
& Smetana, 2003) and to highlight cases in which individuals are faced with infringements on
their basic human rights and may be actively resisting such oppression (e.g., Neff, 2001; Turiel,
1998, 2006; Wainryb, Smetana, & Turiel, 2008). Claims made in work on morality and culture
from a cultural psychology perspective tend to be rejected by social domain theorists, as they
are seen as leading to the untenable stance of an extreme moral relativism and as embodying
stereotypical positions that fail to give weight to contextual influences or to attend to the impact
of power dynamics on social relations (e.g., Killen, 1997; Turiel, 2002).
The goal of this chapter is to provide a critical analysis of cultural psychology research on
morality, identifying contributions and limitations, as well as challenges, of this work. We begin
with a presentation of core conceptual assumptions of cultural psychology. We follow this
with an overview of research on culture and moral development, with consideration given
to the implications of this work and to future directions for work on culture and morality.
This section presents a brief overview of key theoretical premises of cultural psychology.
Cultural psychology refers to a perspective that recognizes the essential role of culture in basic
psychological theory (Bruner, 1990; Cole, 1990, 1996; Fiske, Kitayama, Markus, &
Nisbett, 1998; Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Martin, Nelson, & Tobach, 1995; Miller, 1994a,
1997, 1999; Shweder, 1990; Shweder & Sullivan, 1990, 1993). The present discussion
the most central assumptions and claims of cultural psychology, with a particular
focus on cultural work in the area of moral reasoning.
Ecological approaches take into account that
families, schools, and larger communities present individuals with resources and experiences
that enhance or impede particular developmental outcomes. While an ecological
perspective on culture is essential in highlighting the adaptive significance of settings, it
is also important to view culture not merely in terms of objective affordances and constraints
but to recognize its symbolic properties. From the symbolic perspective, cultural
meanings and practices are understood as bearing an open relationship to objective adaptive
affordances and constraints rather than as merely functionally based (LeVine, 1984;
Shweder, 1984; Tobin, Wu, & Davidson, 1989).
Killen, M., & Smetana, J.G. (Eds.). (2013). Handbook of Moral Development (2nd ed.).
Psychology Press. https://doi-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.4324/9780203581957