ERIC Number: EJ888923
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Aug
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 20
Children Who Choose Not to Eat Meat: A Study of Early Moral Decision-Making
Hussar, Karen M.; Harris, Paul L.
Social Development, v19 n3 p627-641 Aug 2010
Can young children frame their own choices in terms of moral considerations, particularly when those choices do not match the practices of immediate authority figures? To answer this question, we studied 6- to 10-year-old independent vegetarians--children who have elected to become vegetarians, despite being raised in non-vegetarian families. In Study 1, these children were asked about their reasons for not eating meat; their replies were compared with those made by vegetarian children from vegetarian families (family vegetarians) and non-vegetarian children from non-vegetarian families (non-vegetarians). Unlike the other two groups, independent vegetarians universally focused on the suffering that meat eating implies for animals but, surprisingly, they did not condemn others for meat eating. Study 2 attempted to explain this tolerance by examining if children focus on whether an individual has made a commitment to not eating meat. All three groups of children condemned meat eating by morally committed vegetarians, but not by those who have made no such commitment. The two studies show that independent vegetarians are committed to not eating meat on moral grounds and judge that it would be wrong to break that commitment. Nevertheless, like non-vegetarian children, they remain tolerant toward people who have made no such commitment.
Descriptors: Children, Moral Values, Eating Habits, Decision Making, Comparative Analysis, Attitude Measures
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
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