Society maintains a relationship as a whole based on the fulfillment of certain norms that allow a healthy coexistence. Several aspects are interrelated according to customs or also to the requirement of compliance with certain behaviors, these are usually based on both ethical and moral values . This is also applicable to legal norms or those that have a religious origin, all of which are governed by a code that, depending on each case, may be mandatory.

Each individual has their own vision of the world and with it builds a behavior that allows them to integrate into the environment in which they operate. For this reason, he must evaluate the interrelation that exists between his vision and the behavior shown by the other members of the group or society to which he belongs. It is then when a public opinion or a mental reflection is issued, it is being carried out by taking a value judgment as a reference. They define what is correct or incorrect , good or bad, and convenient or inconvenient.

Most social norms conform to the characteristics described by ethical , moral and religious values . These become the basis of any society that wishes to guarantee each individual a peaceful coexistence with others, as well as allowing them to forge their own interpretation of actions and decisions, both their own and those of others.

In the case of legal norms, a mandatory nature is being established for their compliance, exactly what the rules of the game are described, but nevertheless there are individuals who incur in violations of them. These offenders are judged by their attitude which is considered to be caused by a lack of values , then a legally permitted punishment or wake-up call is applied to prevent it from happening again.

What is moral judgment?

Moral judgment defines a set of human interactions that have a direct relationship with each other. It is related to all the norms by which a society is governed by reason of a moral perspective , for this reason each culture and time has particular characteristics that differ from others. The rules of behavior in most cultures are learned and inherited mainly through formal education.

Moral judgment is generally described as a faculty that allows us to differentiate between good and bad. Each individual will have an opinion that is combined with the values, beliefs and norms of a social group; These same elements are a moral opinion that can be mandatory. Understanding it in another way, moral judgment works as a guide that helps people to act right or wrong.

Then we would be talking about a mental act that helps to shape a behavior or situation, it may have an ethical content or it may also lack principles. Each person responds to a series of norms or rules that he learns throughout life, this is how he understands what is the moral sense of his own actions.

Unconsciously people in different areas, whether family, academic or work ; In all of them, you acquire information that allows you to determine what you are allowed to do. However, it is possible to react in a different way to what is established, some could accept it although others reject or ignore it.

Relationship with psychology 

The development of moral judgment takes place at different stages throughout a person’s life. Different psychological studies have been able to determine that morality can develop gradually from childhood to adolescence .

One of the most relevant studies on this subject is that carried out by the American psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg during the 1950s. For his study, he took a group of 72 children between the ages of 10 and 16. These participants were subjected to various questionnaires that try to find out about their opinions in relation to various topics.

As a result, he was able to identify 6 stages for the moral development of a person, each of them is classified into three levels of moral reasoning which are: pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional. Each of them have characteristics that allow an approach to the way of thinking of these individuals according to their ages.

The first level called pre-conventional occurs in individuals during their first 10 years of life. It is considered that the concepts of obedience and punishment prevail, these are the ones that determine what is right or wrong; therefore it acts according to these aspects. Each action is understood to lead to possible punishment or other consequence, but there is also another stage in which the role of rewards begins to be understood. Then you can act in search of such an exchange.

The second level called conventional describes the stage of adolescence prior to adulthood. The way of thinking is subject to the consequences, each action is determined by the search for a particular reason. These individuals begin to consider that it is good to comply with the laws and regulations, this is because they understand the needs of others and the intention to be well with others.

The last stage called pre-conventional transcends everything described above. Only a few individuals can reach this level, this is because individual rights prevail who are above any restrictive law. The perception of life in a generalized way ceases to be governed strictly under universal ethical or moral principles, there is awareness about the search for equal rights and also respect for all. But in this adult stage they feel the duty to disobey some laws as they are considered unjust or oppressive.

Some psychologists consider that this approach has some limitations, especially if it is applied to a society other than the Western one. Other research has shown results where gender and also cultural conditions have a significant influence . There is no definitive model but these have made it possible to understand how different behaviors and positions develop in moral and ethical terms.

What are their characteristics?

Moral and ethical judgments are usually associated due to their similarities, however there are a series of particular characteristics that establish the differences. The main characteristics of moral judgment are described below, they are the following:

  • It is seen can differentiate between right and wrong . The assessment of these actions is done by judging what is good from what is bad, here social and personal aspects influence their analysis.
  • This judgment empowers people to be able to discern and judge based on a series of moral qualities unanimously accepted in the society to which they belong. Then people’s behavior will be observed from this point of view.
  • It is learned at home, but also in educational institutions and in other social settings. It also depends on the experiences lived by each person which allows you to evaluate future ones.
  • It comprises three elements that are related to the behavior chosen by each person. The circumstances and conditions that have influenced each action taken are influenced by it.
  • Morality is allusive to the values, principles, beliefs and norms of a society; but also each person is in contrast a reference that could contradict morality or good customs.
  • Some qualities or actions considered to be attached to the moral judgment of one society can be considered immoral for others. Each group determines and chooses which ones will serve to guide their lives.
  • In philosophy, morality formulates a theory of human behavior, it allows us to analyze what are the reasons that each person has to act in a certain way. Then a complex comprehensive system is created based on principles that guide human actions, so everyone who acts according to these is fine.

The set of human values linked to those of a religious and intellectual nature are also related to customs and traditions . People’s attitudes are built from both spiritual and psychological aspects, it is a complex process in which each individual creates their own identity that is also defined by their culture . The behavior develops from childhood to adulthood depending on technical, geographical and social elements.

Each society in its culture can specify what its way of thinking is like, through its artistic or daily expressions, it can have a better approach about its emotional and affective characteristics . Each country or region has a different culture, therefore there is a perspective that differs in what is considered good or correct from what is not. This information would also allow us to understand how to act accordingly to these same aspects.

Types and examples 

As previously described, morality is imposed by some traditions or institutions that lead a society or group of people. For this reason it has been possible to determine that there are different types of morals, each of them responds to different needs and therefore they adapt to these circumstances. They are as follows:

  • Fundamental morality describes the generalized and expanded idea about what is acceptable and unacceptable, a universal perspective is maintained but within the rational scope. It can also include aspects related to the spiritual or religious part, it can even be influenced by individual elements.
  • Individual morality is attached to personal choices that are determined by each individual. Although the moral tendency of a group that can exert a certain influence is accepted, it does not necessarily control it.
  • Social morality belongs entirely to a group, therefore it can be imposed by some traditions or institutions. These elements function as a collective norm applicable to various areas of people’s daily lives.
  • Socioeconomic morality is the one that evaluates all decisions that are directly related to the economic social condition. Thus, capacities are obtained to make decisions that are within these norms that a majority complies with.
  • Sexual morality , as its name implies, is behavior that has been accepted; or, on the contrary, it is considered unacceptable. It is a set of precepts that have a sexual nature but can also be related to concepts such as religion.
  • Religious morality describes precepts that can vary depending on a specific religion. These can stigmatize some actions typical of human behavior for not being considered morally correct.

Other classifications of the moral judgments identified so far can also be made. Mainly four types have been distinguished, these respond to particular logical reasoning model . They are described below:

  • The affirmative or negative moral judgment is one that tries to define the limits between what is acceptable and what is unacceptable for a society. It can refer to aspects of daily life that affect social and particular levels. For example, some defend the idea that it is okay to kill a person who has murdered another for no reason. It could be said that the lives of other people are being defended who could also be victims if the murderer is not arrested.
  • The universal moral judgment , particularly a singular one, tries to define the actions or occupations of people according to how they influence society. That is, it is described in hypothetical situations in which it is assumed that certain actions par excellence should be considered as good because some references are taken into account. For example, it can be stated that all police officers carry out their work responsibly.
  • The hypothetical moral judgment , as its name implies, describes a situation in which a hypothesis is being made based on the decisions and their consequences. For example, some might assume that being part of a religious community makes people fanatical of a particular religion.
  • The problematic moral judgment describes a situation in which it is assumed that certain actions will always have negative consequences. It is also applicable to certain social groups that always carry stigmas with them, these labels are imposed due to actions that are not necessarily applicable to all their members. For example, not necessarily all Muslims are involved in terrorist activities.

Here are some important examples to help you better understand how moral judgment works. Depending on the perspective of some people they could be considered as acceptable actions , however for others they will be considered as something unacceptable. They are as follows:

  • Stealing in some societies of the world implies the appropriation of someone else’s property without the consent of the owner. It is a behavior that can be punished by law and is reprehensible for society as a whole, however it is morally valid behavior for some people. In the latter case, a situation is being described where the individual who steals does so because he finds himself in a difficult situation of need. It could be the case of a mother who must take any action to feed her children.
  • The death penalty is a punishment determined by law in some countries. This sentence is applied to people who have committed serious crimes, sometimes it is considered that for the good of society the life of this individual should be ended. However, some opinions maintain that some sentences may be unfair and endorsed by people who are not trained to make these types of decisions.
  • Prostitution is the exercise of the provision of sexual services in exchange for financial gain . In some nations, it has been established that it is an act permitted by law and that legally can be carried out by anyone. However, some people feel that unseemly acts are being allowed to take place. In addition, it must be taken into account that morally it may be exploiting people who are forced to carry out these acts.
  • Abortion is a sensitive issue because it is related to various important moral and ethical aspects for society. Its application is usually done to save the life of the woman in cases of illness or cause of not being able to carry it to term for personal reasons. From the perspective of the church, it is considered to be an act that threatens human life. From a legal perspective, a crime is being committed , infanticide implies that the life of an individual who has not had the opportunity to assert their own rights is ending.

Relationship with ethical judgment 

Moral judgment has always been related to ethical judgment. This is because both allow people to determine these actions according to behaviors that are considered acceptable. This ability to estimate or evaluate these actions has a significant influence on social relationships.

Specifically, ethical judgment is about studying the values ​​and norms that have been imposed in a society, therefore it investigates what are the moral reasons that justify the creation of this system. So ethics is what allows considerations to be made in an objective way with respect to social and legal issues, for example.

Ethics is what creates the bases for concepts that are abstract from the moral point of view . It also helps to create a more inclusive and universal appreciation of concepts such as responsibility and also the exercise of power. It is an argument that is rational and from which considerations arise that are not taken into account in the moral perspective, in the latter case they are only values ​​that are absolute.

Morality compared to ethics presents elements that are generally unquestionable . People are encouraged to adhere to these requirements without their opinions or personal needs prevailing. On the other hand, ethics allows to create a space where they find a place for those changing elements that can eventually create permanent changes.

Normally within the family is where people have the foundations for the eventual development of their own personality . Several elements influence this process, eventually also different environments outside the home will serve to choose a different position from the one received. Each individual decides to assume both family and social cultural traits, ideology and the definition of values happens during the development stage.

The moral values are defined unanimously agree jointly to the opinion of most citizens of a country or region. These people give their opinion about what behaviors should be modified in relation to how everyone agrees to see the world. Each group of people maintains a fixed perspective on how they define the meaning of life, this is how they create their customs and traditions that become the essence of their own cultural heritage.

Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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