The Publicatio Moral Development

In Portland, Oregon, a twelve months old boy, Payton, wobbles around his home with his mother and father carefully monitoring him. Payton took his first steps just one month ago and it was evident that he was developing well. No two humans develop in an identical way, but developmental psychologists are able to track and predict an average child’s typical development by examining changes that occur in most individuals from conception to death. Through the identification and analysis of Payton’s identity development, attachment style, cognitive development, and moral development, it can be determined that Payton is developing smoothly.

The identity development theory was created by German developmental psychologist Erik Erikson, who believed that the human lifespan could be separated into eight stages.

With every stage comes its own social and emotional conflicts that individuals have to battle with and within each stage, there are tasks an individual must master before progressing to the next. The stage of infancy occurs between ages zero and twelve months and involves the child battling trust versus mistrust.

At twelve months old, Payton can walk by himself and is exploring his other motor functions, such as feeding himself by shoving food into his mouth with his hands, indicating that Payton is transitioning to the next stage: the toddler stage (ages one to three). Here, Payton will combat shame versus doubt, develop control over basic physical skills, and determine what he can and cannot do by himself . By exploring the world around him, Payton will gain a sense of independence by learning that his actions can trigger results.

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If denied the ability to discover self-control, he will be left with a sense of self-doubt and shame for never choosing the “right” things .

During infancy, children grow a sense of attachment to their caregiver (i.e. their mother). Well developed attachments offer the infant feelings of safety and security, while weak attachments lead to difficulties in forging close relations with others later in life. American-Canadian psychologist, Mary Ainsworth, conducted research in infant attachment through the Strange Situation, where an infant and his/her mother are placed in a room. During a series of a stranger and mother entering and exiting the room, Ainsworth watches the varying infant reactions to his/her mother entering and exiting the room, which can then be categorized into four different patterns– securely attached, anxious, avoidant, or disorganized. When his mother exits, Payton consistently exhibits a moderate amount of distress. But once she returns, he goes to her happily, indicating that he falls under the secure attachment pattern.

The pioneer of developmental psychology, Jean Piaget, believed that development happened in a series of four stages separated by strict age ranges: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operations, and formal operations. Piaget thought that being able to proceed to the next stage was dependent on the success of the previous stages. Tests are in existence that can be performed to determine what stage an individual is at. Because twelve months old Payton experiences reflexive motor responses to sensory stimuli that are followed by cognitive processes determining which actions cause what reactions, it is known that he is in the sensorimotor stage (Gade, 2018).

A Piaget-like test that could be provided to evaluate Payton’s development the Rouge Test, where Payton would be placed in front of a mirror with an unscented red dot on his nose. Typically, infants under eighteen months reach out to touch the red dot they see on the mirror, not knowing the object seen in the mirror is themselves. Piaget would argue that this demonstrated the infants’ ability to comprehend that they each had a unique appearance. But when Payton is placed in front of the mirror with a red dot on his nose, he reaches out towards the mirror, communicating that he has not mastered the sensorimotor stage. This test is ideal because it indicates whether or not Payton has developed a sense of self yet, meaning that he is not able to graduate to the next developmental stage. Unlike Piaget, Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky believed that the cognitive process could be accelerated through interactive processes because each child has zones of proximal development (ZPD).

ZPD are areas where a pupil can successfully learn a cognitive task with guidance. This technique of teaching just above the present state of cognitive development is called scaffolding. A method of scaffolding that could be utilized with teaching Payton the sense of self is first having Payton’s mother hold him and have Payton stare at his mother, then both Payton and his mother would be placed in front of the mirror, which would be useful because, as discussed earlier, infants develop a sense of attachment to their caregivers. It would then increase the likelihood of Payton recognizing himself in the mirror. This scaffolding technique would be effective if Payton was able to make the connection that his mother was holding him and the woman in the mirror holding the baby was his mother, thus the baby in the mirror was him. Another simpler method could be drawing the dot on Payton’s nose while Payton was placed in front of the mirror. This way, he can feel and see the red dot being placed on to him.

Stemming from Piaget’s work is Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development. Essentially, in Kohlberg’s research, he gave the participant a moral dilemma and then asked participants what they would do and why. Based on their answers, he assigned them a level and stage of moral development. Anybody at the age of nine or younger usually fall under level one, the preconventional level (Benedetti, 2018). Given Payton’s young age, he would automatically be categorized in the preconventional stage. However, if we were to assume that Erikson’s identity development theory were true, then there would be no way to measure Payton’s moral development because the beginnings of moral reasoning do not occur until a child reaches the preschool age (ages three to six). Therefore, moral development would have to be something measured later in Payton’s life.

There are many theories determining how individuals develop and there are many ways in which individuals actually develop. After identifying and analyzing Payton’s identity development, attachment type, cognitive development, and moral development, it can be predicted that he is well on his way to becoming a charming young boy. While there may be disagreements on how and when individuals develop, one thing that everyone can agree on is the notion that human development is amazing and it is something that might never be fully understood.

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The Publicatio Moral Development. (2022, Feb 08). Retrieved from

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