Lawrence Kohlberg (October 25, 1927 – January 19, 1987) was an American psychologist born in Bronxville, New York, who served as a professor at the University of Chicago as well as Harvard University. Famous for research in moral education, reasoning, and development, he developed stages of moral development. A close follower of Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development, Kohlberg's work reflects and extends his predecessor's ideas, at the same time creating a new field within psychology: "moral development". Scholars such as Elliot Turiel and James Rest have responded to Kohlberg's work with their own significant contributions. In an empirical study by Haggbloom et al using six criteria such as citations and recognition, Kohlberg was found to be the 30th most eminent psychologist of the 20th Century.
Lawrence Kohlberg grew up in a wealthy family and attended Phillips Academy, a renowned private high school. During World War II, after finishing his high school education, he enlisted and became an engineer on a freighter. On that ship he and his shipmates decided to aid Jews attempting to escape from Europe to Palestine. They accomplished this by smuggling them in banana crates that were secretly beds, fooling government inspectors that formed the British blockade to the region.
Schooling and research
Kohlberg then taught in 1962 at the University of Chicago in the Committee on Human Development, further extending his time with academia. In 1968, 40 years old and married with two children, he became a professor of education and social psychology at Harvard University. While at Harvard, he met Carol Gilligan, who later became a colleague and critic of his moral development stage theory.
During a visit to Israel in 1969, Kohlberg journeyed to a kibbutz and observed how much more the youths' moral development had progressed compared to those who were not part of kibbutzim. He decided to rethink his current research and start by beginning a new school called the Cluster School within Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. The Cluster School ran as a 'just community' where students had a basic and trustworthy relationship with one another, using democracy to make all the school's decisions. Armed with this model he started similar 'just communities' in other schools and even one in a prison.
Kohlberg contracted a tropical disease in 1971 while doing cross-cultural work in Belize. As a result, he struggled with depression and physical pain for the following 16 years. On January 19, 1987, he requested a day of leave from the Massachusetts hospital where he was being treated, drove to the coast, and was later found to have drowned in the Boston Harbor. He was 59 years old.
- Crain, William C. (1985). Theories of Development, 2Rev Ed, Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-13-913617-7.
- Reconstructing Larry: Assessing the Legacy of Lawrence Kohlberg
- PSYography: Lawrence Kohlberg
- ↑ Haggbloom, S.J. et al. (2002). The 100 Most Eminent Psychologists of the 20th Century. Review of General Psychology. Vol. 6, No. 2, 139–15. Haggbloom et al combined 3 quantitative variables: citations in professional journals, citations in textbooks, and nominations in a survey given to members of the Association for Psychological Science, with 3 qualitative variables (converted to quantitative scores): National Academy of Science (NAS) membership, American Psychological Association (APA) President and/or recipient of the APA Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award, and surname used as an eponym. Then the list was rank ordered.
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