25 Lawrence Kohlberg Quotes from American Psychologist

Lawrence Kohlberg was a famous American psychologist and educator born in 1927 in New York.

Lawrence Kohlberg is famous for theory of stages of moral development. 

He grew up in a family affected by divorce which led him to choose between living with his father or mother.

Kohlberg served in the U.S. merchant marine and was involved in smuggling Jewish refugees into Palestine.

He earned his degrees in psychology from the University of Chicago and later taught at Harvard University.

Lawrence Kohlberg Quotes

His work was groundbreaking in psychology but also faced criticism for overlooking gender differences in moral development.

Kohlberg’s later years were marred by illness and depression leading to his suicide in 1987.

Here are some of the best quotes by Lawrence Kohlberg.

Best Lawrence Kohlberg Quotes


I have always tried to be clear that my states are stages of justice reasoning, not of emotions, aspirations, or action. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.


Right action tends to be defined in terms of general individual rights and standards that have been critically examined and agreed upon by the whole society. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.


In our society, authority derives from justice, and in our society, learning to live with authority should derive from and aid learning to understand and to feel justice. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

Although it may be true that the notion of teaching virtues such as honesty or integrity arouses little controversy, it is also true that vague consensus on the goodness of these virtues conceals a great deal of actual disagreement over their definitions. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

The individual makes a clear effort to define moral values and principles that have validity and application apart from the authority of the groups of persons holding them and apart from the individual’s own identification with the group. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

The first meaning of ‘cognitive’ for us is that observations of others are made phenomenologically: i.e., by attempting to take the role of the other, to see things from his or her conscious viewpoint. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.


Intelligence may be taken as a necessary, but not sufficient, cause of moral advance. All morally advanced children are bright, but not all bright children are morally advanced. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

Famous Lawrence Kohlberg Quotes

If I can see my own recollections, like many adolescents, I was a Platonic realist. I believed in the reality of ideas, of the big nouns, and believed that one’s life was determined by the ideas of the true, the good, and the beautiful which one held. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

Insofar as each of us has been through the moral stages and has held the viewpoint of each stage, we should be able to put ourselves in the internal framework of a given stage. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

The normative theoretical claim that a higher stage is philosophically a better stage is one necessary part of a psychological explanation of sequential stage movement. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.


The human’s being right to do as he pleases without interfering with someone else’s rights is a formula defining rights prior to social legislation. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

Piaget is correct in assuming a culturally universal age development of a sense of justice, involving progressive concern for the needs and feelings of others and elaborated conceptions of reciprocity and equality. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

The arguments about parents being too permissive and kids growing up without superegos are not based on fact. Our research tells us that the family is not the only purveyor of morality. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

The crowds, the praise, and the power are neither just nor unjust in themselves. As they are typically used in the schools, they represent the values of social order and of individual competitive achievement. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

Top Lawrence Kohlberg Quotes


For the first time in human history, there seems to be a radical increase in the proportion reaching principled morality. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

If our psychology seems crude and weak in what it can say about the great human experiences, it is better to make that clear and to mark where we must go than to ignore it. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

The main experiential determinants of moral development seem to be amount and variety of social experience, the opportunity to take a number of roles and to encounter other perspectives. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

The problem of moral change would appear to be one of presenting stimuli which are both sufficiently incongruous as to stimulate conflict in the child’s existing stage schemata and sufficiently congruous as to be assimilable with some accomodative effort. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.


These youngsters hold that all morality is relative but that middle class morality is just plain bad. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

All individuals in all cultures use the same thirty basic moral categories, concepts, or principles, and all individuals in all cultures go through the same order or sequence of gross stage development, though they vary in rate and terminal point of development. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

Popular Lawrence Kohlberg Quotes


Essentially, social education is moral education, and moral education is preparation for citizenship… When Jefferson and others advocated public education, it was to prepare for citizenship in a new, constitutional, democratic society. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

It is hardly plausible to view a whole succession of logics as an evolutionary and functional program of innate wiring, particularly in light of the fact that the most mature logical structures are reached only by some adults. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.


It seems obvious that moral stages must primarily be the products of the child’s interaction with others rather than the direct unfolding of biological or neurological structures. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

The unit of effectiveness of education is not the individual but the group. An individual’s moral values are primarily important for society as they contribute to a moral social climate, not as they induce particular pieces of behavior. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

At this level, the individual perceives the maintenance of the expectations of his family, group, or nation as valuable in its own right, regardless of immediate and obvious consequences. ~ Lawrence Kohlberg.

So these were the 25 top quotes about Lawrence Kohlberg.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Daveed Diggs quotes and Luis Palau quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

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