Gender differences in moral development and acquisition: A review of Kohlberg's and Gilligan's Models of Justice and Care

Cindy J. P. Woods1
1California State University, United States
Cite this article:  Woods, C. J. P. (1996). Gender differences in moral development and acquisition: A review of Kohlberg's and Gilligan's Models of Justice and Care. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 24(4), 375-384.

Volume 24 Issue 4 | e858 | Published: November 1996 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1996.24.4.375

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Issues of moral development and moral action have been explored by psychologists by both empirical and non-empirical methods. Lawrence Kohlberg's moral stages have been of particular interest and scrutiny since his longitudinal study of boys was first published in 1969. Harvard's Carol Gilligan contests Kohlberg's findings in her 1982 book In A Different Voice, as well as other publications, claiming that girls' morality developed differently from boys' and that Kohlberg's stages were not universal as he asserted. The debate over gender differences in moral development has focused primarily on these two theories. Numerous studies and articles have been published deliberating both Kohlberg's and Gilligan's theories with most concluding there is no significant difference in the way the sexes make moral decisions. This article reviews the current literature of both theories, providing a context in which to view morality, and offers suggestions for future research.
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