Does group membership affect children's judgments of social transgressions?

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Alabama Libraries

Children judge moral transgressions as more serious and more punish-worthy than conventional transgressions (Slomkowski & Killen, 1992; Smetana, 1981). Children also judge the actions of in-group members more favorably than those of out-group members (Aboud, 2003; Zak & Knack, 2001). The current study asked whether children would judge moral and conventional transgressions committed by an in-group member differently when compared to the same acts committed by an out-group member (i.e., act judgments). Additionally, it asked whether children would judge the transgressors themselves differently based on their group status (i.e., in-group, out-group, neutral, and self). Results show that preschool children reliably judge moral and conventional transgressions differently. Compared to children’s judgments of out-group members, their judgments of in-group members were more lenient. Results suggest that group membership does indeed affect how serious or punish-worthy a violation and a violator are judged to be.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Developmental psychology, Individual & family studies