ERIC Number: EJ1050233
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Jan
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 37
Moral Complexity in Middle Childhood: Children's Evaluations of Necessary Harm
Jambon, Marc; Smetana, Judith G.
Developmental Psychology, v50 n1 p22-33 Jan 2014
We assessed 5-to 11-year-olds' (N = 76) judgments of straightforward moral transgressions (prototypical harm) as well as their evaluations of complex, hypothetical scenarios in which an actor transgresses in order to prevent injury (necessary harm). The nature of the actor's transgression (psychological or physical harm) varied across participants. Moral judgments and justifications, knowledge of the actor's psychological experience, and their associations were examined. At all ages, children negatively evaluated prototypical harm; judgments of necessary harm became increasingly more forgiving with age as justifications pertaining to the actor's harm decreased. References to the actor's positive actions and children's tendency to coordinate conflicting concerns increased with age, but only when evaluating psychological harm. Across conditions, older children viewed transgressors as holding increasingly more positive attitudes toward their own actions, and this was uniquely associated with more forgiving moral judgments and justifications of necessary but not prototypical harm. Findings are discussed in relation to the emergence of more flexible and nuanced moral evaluations during middle childhood.
Descriptors: Moral Values, Children, Preadolescents, Attitude Measures, Vignettes, Accident Prevention, Value Judgment, Age Differences, Injuries, Aggression, Friendship, Statistical Analysis, Interviews
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
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