Children's evaluations of moral and conventional retaliations

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University of Alabama Libraries

Recent research has found that children are able to effectively interpret and justify situations of moral provocation and retaliation and that their disapproval of provocation increases with age (Astor, 1994; Smetana, Campione-Barr & Yell, 2003). The current study aimed to discover whether children judge moral provocation and retaliation as worse than conventional provocation and retaliation, and if these judgments changed depending on the pattern in which the acts occur. 47 adults and 106 children (aged 4-9) were presented with 8 conditions that combine moral violations and retaliations with conventional violations and retaliations. These conditions were designed to present participants with violations and retaliations that came from within the same domain, and some that came from different domains, (i.e., ‘matched’ and ‘mismatched’ domain conditions). It was hypothesized that in all scenarios, children would judge acts of moral transgressions and retaliations as worse and more punishable than conventional. Findings showed that unprovoked transgressions were judged as worse than provoked transgressions, with the most leniency being for provoked transgressions in the conventional domain. Children between ages 4-6 displayed the least leniency for retaliations when compared to older children and adults.

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Developmental psychology, Social sciences education, Social research