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ERIC Number: EJ1050238
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Jan
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
The Construction of Moral Agency in Mother-Child Conversations about Helping and Hurting across Childhood and Adolescence
Recchia, Holly E.; Wainryb, Cecilia; Bourne, Stacia; Pasupathi, Monisha
Developmental Psychology, v50 n1 p34-44 Jan 2014
This study examined mother-child conversations about children's and adolescents' past harmful and helpful actions. The sample included 100 mothers and their 7-, 11-, or 16-year-old children; each dyad discussed events when the child (a) helped a friend and (b) hurt a friend. Analyses suggested that conversations about help may serve to facilitate children's sense of themselves as prosocial moral agents; mothers focused on children's feelings of pride, positive judgments of the child's behavior, and positive insights about the child's characteristics that could be drawn from the event. In turn, conversations about harm were more elaborated and contentious than those about help, and reflected more complex maternal goals; although mothers highlighted children's wrongdoing (e.g., by noting negative consequences of the child's actions for others), they also engaged in a variety of strategies that may support children's ability to reconcile their harmful actions with a positive self-view (e.g., by noting what children did do well or their capacity for repair). With respect to age effects, results revealed that older children played an increasingly active and spontaneous role in discussions. Furthermore, as compared with 7-year-olds, conversations with 11-and 16-year-olds focused more on psychological insights that could be drawn from experiences and less on children's concrete harmful and helpful actions. Overall, results illuminate the processes whereby conversations with mothers may further children's developing understandings of their own and others' moral agency, and how discussions of prosocial and transgressive moral experiences may provide distinct but complementary opportunities for moral socialization.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A