Part IV A – Consumers
Chapter 6: Decision-Making
6.1 Supra-Complex Decision-Making
6.1.2 Moral Development
In order for moral to affect consumers’ decision-making process they must recognize the presence of a moral issue. However, consumers can be placed at different levels within the model of Moral Development presented by Kohlberg (in McGregor 2006). In his model he states that people (consumers) throughout their lives will move through 3 levels consisting of 2 stages each. However, he also argues that only 25 % will move beyond level 2 and into stage 5 and 6.
Although Kohlberg argues that the levels are not static in relation to age, he found that most consumers at level 1 are between the age of 1 and 9. At this level, consumers will be concerned with seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.
Stage One: At stage one; consumers would be concerned with doing what they are told, as they do not wish to get punished, thus making their motivation to act in order to achieve pleasure.
Stage Two: At stage two; consumers are acting in their best interest, thereby they will only give if they know that they are getting something in return.
At level 2 most people between the age of 9 and 20 are found.
Stage Three: At stage three; the orientation shifts from pleasing oneself to pleasing others, although the underlying motivation is being approved by others. Now, the Moral Development contains a two-person relationship. At this stage, what is considered morally right is anything that conforms to what is expected by one’s peers. Hence, Reference Groups become an important benchmark for right behaviour.
Stage Four: At stage four; what constitutes moral behaviour shifts from peers to a more formal construct of laws and authority. Here, consumers are concerned with what is necessary behaviour to keep order in society, thus making society as a whole the focus of the consumers in relation to their moral stage (ibid).
59 Level 3:
At the final level people beyond the age of 20 are most often found and as already mentioned, Kohlberg argues that only 25 % of the population reach this level.
Stage Five: At stage five; consumers begin to question what would constitute a good society and how society should be constructed in order for all to be equal, thus consumers begin to question authority.
Stage Six: At the last stage, consumers have developed a moral that goes to have respect for all, want justice for all, and freedom for all etc., hence their orientation goes beyond their own society (ibid).
In addition, Kohlberg argues that there are no moral leaps, meaning that consumers cannot skip stages. They will, however, not forget the moral insights they have gained, although they are not capable of understanding moral reasoning beyond their own moral stage. Furthermore, he argues that consumers will not grow morally if they do not encounter moral dilemmas. As consumers gain more knowledge about the world along with CSR becoming a more integrated part our society, consumers will increasingly encounter new dilemmas, and hence develop morally. Keeping in mind that Kohlberg developed this model in the late 1950s, some of the underlying moral reasoning at each stage of his model might have changed, as consumers have gained more insights and knowledge about the world. We thereby argue that consumers go through Kohlberg’s moral stages even faster than before. As the Societal Level and the Individual Level are interrelated in our main theoretical framework (Sestoft, 2010), the development of our morals is also affect by ethics of our society.
Kohlberg has been widely criticized for using only males when conducting his research.
However, Gilligan re-conceptualized the Moral Development theory from a gender perspective, as her research shows that women are more focused on care and responsibility whereas men are focused on justice and rights (cf. Figure 7). Thus, according to Gilligan’s research, the motivation for considering CSR certified fashion products would be different for women and men. As Gilligan was a former student of Kohlberg, her research was conducted using the same levels as Kohlberg, making Gilligan’s study useable in continuation of Kohlberg´s model of Moral Development (McGregor, 2006).
60 Figure 7: Moral Development on Women and Men
Focus - Morality in terms of care.
- Care dilemmas.
- Morality in terms of justice.
- Justice dilemmas.
- To care and to discern and alleviate the real troubles of the world.
- Caring about everyone and about oneself.
- To respect the rights of others and to protect, from interference the right to life and self-fulfillment.
- To treat everyone fairly, following the rules.
Logic - Of relationships. - Of consequences of choices.
Nature of problems
- Problems are moral when they involve people suffering.
- Problems are moral when they involve competing claims of rights.
- Make decision by preserving emotional connectedness of everyone.
- Moral decisions were correct if relationships have been preserved and whether people have been hurt.
- Make moral decisions by applying rules fairly and impartially.
- Moral decisions were correct if all the rules were applied properly.
Responsibility - Taking care of other person and their feelings.
- Being answerable for actions (accountable)
- Whether a “particular”
person suffered rather than “anyone”.
- Abstract codes of conduct: did
“anyone” get treated unjustly.
Source: McGregor, 2006
Moral Development does not include traits of Moral Intensity, which we argue is a vital part in order to understand the complexity of moral issues related to the Supra-Complex Decision-Making process. We therefore employ the 6 dimensions influencing Moral Intensity.