The Levels of Development and Social Responsibility

Social Responsibility

One thing we could definitely use more of these days is social responsibility—that is, people doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. I’ve long been a proponent of fostering social responsibility in both children and adults. That’s one reason why I created the Levels of Development and have been sharing it with parents, teachers, and school administrators for decades.

But the Levels of Development isn’t just for children. The levels have great merit outside of the classroom and with adults. In fact, when people become aware of the Levels of Development, they become conscious of social responsibility in their own behaviors and in relationships with others.

Here are just a few of the main benefits that learning the Levels of Development has on people and how it contributes to social responsibility.

  • Raises awareness for responsible citizenship.

Our society is based on great autonomy for its citizens. However, citizenship assumes values such as responsibility, respect, caring, fairness, and trustworthiness—the values that transcend divisions of race, religion, politics, gender, and wealth. These values are fostered in the Levels of Development and are reinforced in the examples listed in Level D—democracy.

  • Raises awareness for individual responsibility.

Democratic living requires more than just choosing when to conform and when not to conform. When peer pressure is so compelling as to prompt people to do something that is personally or socially irresponsible, just knowing the Levels of Development can have a liberating and responsibility-producing effect.

  • Highlights the fact that people are constantly making choices.

    The fact is that people choose their own behavior, consciously or nonconsiously (habitually). People learn that their behaviors are self-chosen, a product of their decisions. They learn that they have a choice in how they respond in a situation, to a stimulus, and even to an urge.

  • Fosters understanding about internal and external motivation.

Understanding the difference between internal and external motivation is vital. Why do you do the things you do? Are you doing things because someone asked or told you to do them? Or are you doing things because of the feeling you get as a result of taking the action? People who are self-disciplined, independent problem solvers typically engage in activities as a result of internal motivation. Although outside factors may influence them, they know that they can choose whether or not those factors influence them.

  • Leads to improved self-esteem.

Self-esteem is closely related to self-satisfaction. A person who is satisfied with a task has a tendency to repeat it. The more often someone completes a task successfully, the more proficient he or she becomes in it. This reinforcement builds feelings of competency and self-worth, critical elements of self-esteem. In short, self-esteem is the result of feelings of competency. Rather than being the result of external rewards, these feelings are the result of internal thoughts—often resulting from an internal feeling of satisfaction.

Tip: Be responsible and do the right thing—whether or not someone else is watching. Understanding the Levels of Development is the foundation of social responsibility and living your best life.