Moral Development through Social Narratives and Game Design

Moral Development through Social Narratives and Game Design

Lance Vikaros, Darnel Degand
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-845-6.ch013
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Morality originates in dispositions and attitudes formed in childhood and early adolescence. Fantasy play and both the perspective taking and interpersonal negotiation of conflicts that it affords, have been causally linked to the development of moral reasoning and a theory of mind. A closer examination of the self-regulated processes involved implicates a number of contributing factors that video games and virtual worlds are well suited to encourage. The authors present recommendations suggesting the ways in which such technology can facilitate moral development by supporting and simulating diverse social interaction in ways leading to the promotion of self-efficacy, critical thinking, and consequential decision making.
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Morality Defined

A moral is widely considered to be a principle of right and wrong conduct. By comparison, an ethic is a set of morals particular to a given culture or group; and finally morality is a process of conforming to a set of rules of right conduct (, 2009). In this sense, ethics are externally mandated and may or may not be adopted into an individual’s internally constructed set of morals.

Moral development and transformations of consciousness continue throughout life. At younger ages, cognitive and social predispositions are first formed that enable or impair one’s social relationships (Krosnick & Alwin, 1989), and by extension, ultimately direct one’s moral trajectory. The origins of morality have been attributed to social factors in early childhood, beginning at around two years of age, coinciding with the emergence of both fantasy play and language acquisition (Singer, J., & Singer, D., 2006). Its development continues into adulthood, mostly as predicted by Kohlberg’s (1981) model of staged development (see Figure 1). Along the path from childhood to adulthood, various stages of moral transformation occur that redefine one’s world view and affect the nature of one’s interaction with others (Bandura, 1991; Vygotsky, 1933/1966).

Figure 1.

Kohlberg’s Theory of the Stages of Moral Judgment


While still in need of further research, there is support for the impressionable years hypothesis that individuals are most receptive to changing their beliefs prior to adulthood (Alwin & McCammon, 2003). For this reason, childhood and early adolescence will be the focus here as moral development is traced from its early beginnings in the social and narrative fantasy play of early childhood to its more adult manifestations in activities such as role play and interpersonal conflict negotiation.

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