Kohlberg's theory of moral development has six stages, but in class my teacher spoke of a simplistic version of this theory that I'll include here. Talking about stages is perhaps the wrong word to even describe development because development is not a stage or event, it's a process. The driving force behind Kohlberg's research was to discover the reasons or rationale people went through for doing things. He wanted to know what motivated people to do things. He narrowed it down to three main categories: Pre-conventional, Conventional, and Post-Conventional.
In pre-conventional, the motive for doing things is for personal reward or to avoid punishments. Essentially, in this stage you do things for yourself. A simple example would be a child obeying their parents to avoid punishment. Similarly, a child obeying parents to receive a reward. "What's in it for me?" is a giveaway for this line of reasoning.
Conventional reasoning is still focused on self, but in a round about way. A person in this stage acts for the good of the group, family, or society. They are concerned about the safety, happiness, or good of other people, but it in the end the benefits for being concerned about others is so that they will themselves be benefited. For example, a person acting upon this motive would obey the commandment to not steal because they believe that chaos in society is prevented from obedience to laws such as this. They are obeying to help society, but really the benefit comes to them in the end because there is a peaceful society that they can live in.
Post-Conventional is the highest moral level and an individual in this level is not concerned with self. Their actions and decisions reflect a sole concern for others without need for reward. In the gospel, we call this charity. When faced with a moral dilemma, this individual does not make a decision based upon whether or not they will be rewarded, or avoid punishment by their decision. They also do not make their decision based upon what the law or the rule says. They make their decision based upon the effect their decision will have upon the well-being of others. It's not about them, it's about others. Jesus is the prototype.
Notice that in each of these stages the action can be the same. What changes is the motive. The connections with the gospel are quite apparent.
Elder Oaks said something interesting about this:
"Each of us should apply that principle to our attitudes in attending church. Some say “I didn’t learn anything today” or “No one was friendly to me” or “I was offended” or “The Church is not filling my needs.” All those answers are self-centered, and all retard spiritual growth."
I recommend reading the whole talk:
This devotional is a must! If you don't read the others, make sure you read this.
Another great talk from Elder Oaks about this subject: