ERIC Number: ED136918
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977-Mar
Reference Count: 0
The Child's Conception of Mens Rea: Information Mitigating Punishment Judgments.
Leahy, Robert L.
Sixty-two white middle class subjects forming two age groups (6 and 11 years) were given information about hypothetical peers who were described as hitting the subject child. Children indicated how much they thought the peer should be punished (spanked). Older subjects put more emphasis on situational or personal information about the peer (including the presence of "Mens Rea," the guilty mind or the state of mind of the peer) than did younger subjects in deciding how severely a child should be punished. The order of mitigation of information for the older subjects (from most to least mitigating) was: provocation, duress, emotional maladjustment, lack of chronic occurrence, and lack of emotional maladjustment, with chronic transgressors punished more than all other transgressors. For 6-year-old children the only mitigating factor was provocation. External constraints were more mitigating than internal contraints. Male transgressors were punished more than female transgressors. Male subjects found duress and lack of chronic occurrence of transgressions to be more mitigating than did female subjects. The findings were discussed in terms of Piaget's moral judgment theory and the development of causal schemes of attribution. (Author/JMB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Mental Health (DHEW), Rockville, MD.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (New Orleans, Louisiana, March 17-20, 1977)