ERIC Number: ED287567
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Children's Moral Development and Knowledge of the Legal Process.
Tate, Carol; And Others
A questionnaire was administered to 70 children in two age groups who averaged either 5 years, 8 months, or 10 years, 7 months of age, for the purpose of documenting their understanding of legal process and courtroom procedure. Questions probed factual knowledge and social cognition and perception. Subjects were also asked about four moral dilemmas in order to ascertain whether they understood (1) what happens in court, (2) the difference between truth and lying, (3) why and how people are punished, and (4) the difference between accidental and intentional wrongdoing. Significant differences were found in the frequency of correct responses. Older children possessed significantly greater knowledge of courtroom procedure. All children appeared to base much of their courtroom knowledge on television. Younger children did not know how to tell whether a person was lying, whereas older children frequently mentioned facial expressions as possible indicators. Younger children seemed to believe that persons who tell the truth will be believed despite circumstantial evidence against them; that people don't lie to authorities; and that truth can be determined by asking individuals whether or not they are lying. Older children thought it would be impossible to prove innocence if counterevidence existed. Overall, children thought they were as believable or more believable than adults. (RH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association (33rd, Atlanta, GA, March 25-28, 1987).