Stage 1 & Stage 2

Stage 1: the "Egocentric" stage, characterized by awareness of reward and punishment

Stage 2: the stage of "Reciprocity," characterized by awareness of personal gain and/or mutual gain

Most elementary students

Some middle school students

A few high school students


Stage 3 & Stage 4

Stage 3: the "Good Child" stage, awareness of social approval and/or keeping the peace

Stage 4: the "Law and Order" stage, awareness of social order and/or respect for authority

Rarely elementary students

Most middle school and high school students

Many adults


Stage 5 & Stage 6

Stage 5: the "Social Contract" stage, awareness of flexible rules and/or social consensus

Stage 6: the "Principles and Conscience" stage, awareness of dignity/worth and/or having abstract universal values

Stage 5 - some adults

Stage 6 - a few adults