Feeling and thinking: towards a developmental account of the moral/conventional distinction

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Since Turiel proposed social domain theory, many efforts have been made to explore the capacity to distinguish moral transgressions from conventional transgressions. However, researchers cannot reach a consensus on whether selective moralization is driven by emotional and non-rational processes or reasoning and higher cognition. After reviewing the existing theories and studies, this paper argues that the developmental dimension of moral thinking should be considered when studying the mechanisms underlying moral/conventional distinction. Participants were recruited to make judgments about a series of disgusting scenarios, their moral development and sensitivity to disgust were assessed by well-established questionnaires. The findings suggest that cognitive moral development contributes to judgments made in emotionally charged situations and moral cognition affects the influences of moral emotion on the moral/conventional distinction.

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Educational psychology