The social and moral development of individuals, and the relations of cultural contexts to individuals' thought and actions are broad topics that have been approached in a variety of ways. Especially with regard to morality, there have and continue to be sharp differences and heated controversies about their defining features, how they are formed during childhood and adolescence, the role of judgments and emotions, and relations of individuals and society. In the early part of the twentieth century, some of the major social scientific theorists, including psychologists like Jean Piaget (1932), Sigmund Freud (1930), and those of the behavioristic movement (John Watson, 1924, but later articulated more explicitly by B.F. Skinner, 1971), addressed issues of morality and its development in different ways. Emile Durkheim (1925/1961), a sociologist, also presented a point of view that included propositions about children's development.
One perspective on the development of morality was that it entailed the construction of judgments about justice, equality, and cooperation. In line with his general theoretical approach, Piaget proposed that children's moral development stems from their reciprocal interactions with others, including adults and peers. He also theorized that individuals and society are in reciprocal relationship, and individuals make judgments that are both in accord with society's traditions and accepted practices and that serve to potentially transform those traditions and practices (Piaget, 1950/1995). Alternative perspectives were presented by Freud, the Behaviorists, and Durkheim.