Aggression Development: Piaget’s Moral Development Theory

This paper is my reflection on aggression behavior basing on Piaget’s model of moral development. I learnt that aggressive acts are diverse, and are grouped into two categories: hostile aggression and instrumental aggression. Hostile aggressions are acts or deeds which focus on deliberately causing harm to another person. Instrumental aggression involves acts or deeds that focus on gaining access to space, privileges and objects.


Pre-moral period

I have always wondered how human beings develop aggressive behavior. After reading Piaget’s theory of moral development I now understand how a person’s aggressive behavior is developed and affects his/her own character.

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Piaget helps me understand that there are stages in which a moral behavior is developed by a person. Through his classification, I have learnt that the first stage is pre-moral period. This stage covers the first five years of a child’s growth, and during this period, a child has little or no awareness or respect for socially defined rules.

Further, I learnt that aggressiveness behavior at this stage is determined by various factors such as biological issues, social influences, social contexts and environmental conditions.

These factors have significant influence in learning aggressiveness and subsequent incorporation into a child response collection before they elicit to some external situations or stimulation from within a child. Consequently, I learn that aggression is learned and regulated by the child’s emerging cognitive system.

From this perspective, child cognition is significant in upholding habitual aggressive behavior. While aggressive behavior is initially stimulated by various factors, it becomes more stable and consistent overtime as a child’s cognition become more fully developed and more resistant to change.

Heteronomous morality

Also, I note that Piaget’s second stage of moral development is heteronomous morality. It is the first stage of moral development in which a child views the rules of authority figures as revered and unchangeable. In this stage, a child understands the differences between moral and social predictable misdeeds (Hutchison 53). Aggressive signs are observed in the second year of life and a child aged two to three years shows emotional reaction indicative of aggressions and engages in a behavior response to mishap.

Further, I discovered that there are two roles which contribute in the transition from heteronomous to autonomous morality. These roles are cognitive maturation. Cognitive maturation involves decline in egocentrism and development of role taking skills. Another factor I identified is social experience. This factor is where a child comes into contact with peers, thus, decreasing his/her respect for adult authority, increases self-respect and respect for peers and demonstrates that rules are subjective agreements (Hutchison 76).

Autonomous morality

Besides the two stages, I also discovered the autonomous morality forms part of aggression development. Piaget helps me to understand that this stage makes a child realizes that rules are subjective agreements that can be changed and challenged with the sanction of the people they govern. Hence, a child can show signs which are disliked by the peers, thus, when he/she notices this, she/he becomes weak, socially inhibited and disinclined to fight back.

I also understand that a child who has adjustment problems faces problems such as anxiety, depression, weak self-esteem and dislike for school (Hutchison 94). Some children remain highly aggressive because of their environment and maintain aggressive habits. Developing conscience is associated with aggression. When a child displays evidence of spontaneous reparation, confessions and aggressiveness towards other’s wrongdoing is an indicative sign of aggressiveness behavior.

Works Cited

Hutchison, D. Elizabeth. Dimensions of human behavior: the changing life course. 4th ed. California: Sage Publications, 2011. Print


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