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ERIC Number: EJ939909
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jun
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0261-510X
The Assignment of Moral Status: Age-Related Differences in the Use of Three Mental Capacity Criteria
Olthof, Tjeert; Rieffe, Carolien; Terwogt, Mark Meerum; Lalay-Cederburg, Cindy; Reijntjes, Albert; Hagenaar, Janneke
British Journal of Developmental Psychology, v26 n2 p233-247 Jun 2008
This study examined children's and young adults' use of three mental capacity criteria for treating an entity as one to which moral subjects have moral obligations, that is, as having moral status. In line with philosophical theorizing, these criteria were the capacity to (1) perceive; (2) suffer; and (3) think. In this study, 116 respondents aged 9 to 18 years old gave moral judgments and guilt and shame attributions in response to stories about perpetrators whose behaviour negatively affected entities with different mental capacities. The moral judgments revealed that 9-year-old children assigned moral status primarily on the basis of the victimized entity's ability to suffer. Eleven-year-old children also used the ability to suffer, but they assigned additional moral status when the victimized entity was able to perceive. Young adults also used perception as a criterion, but they assigned additional moral status when the victimized entity was simultaneously able to suffer and able to think. When compared to their moral judgments, the moral emotion attributions of respondents of all age groups were more strongly affected by the victimized entity's ability to think.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A