Conventional level is the second stage in Kohlberg's stages of development which explains the development of moral judgment and ethical reasoning in individuals. Kohlberg built on the theories of Piaget to develop six distinct stages (three stages with two substages each) that show the progression of moral reasoning in humans. The first stage is the pre-conventional level which typically ends by the age of nine and is characterized by the lack of a personal morality code-people only follow or disobey the rules displayed by their adult role models. The conventional level is the second stage and occurs during adolescence and adulthood. During this stage individuals begin to develop personal moral codes by internalizing the rules of adult role models. There is no questioning of these norms and rules during this stage, they are adopted and not critiqued.
There are two substages within the conventional level. The first stage is characterized by good social relationships in which the individual is moral so that others will perceive them as a good person. The second substage of the conventional level is focused on a societal level and the maintenance of social order increases in importance. At this substage the individual becomes knowledgable about societal rules and norms and follows them in order to maintain social standing and order.
The first conventional substage emphasizes individual relationships with others while the second substage focuses on the relationship with society as a whole. After the conventional level comes the post-conventional level which only is reached by 10-15% of adults and usually occurs in later adulthood. This stage is characterized by concern for the rights of others and a personal morality code that may supersede societal laws or norms. At this stage a person develops universal moral principles that are used to guide their behavior instead of the unquestioned rules that were merely adopted from role models in the conventional level. An individual's personal moral reasoning is given more weight than the laws and rule of society. Abstract reasoning and social contracts are important in this stage. Many adults never reach this stage of moral reasoning.