Respecting children: Moral reasoning when right conduct joins punishing outcomes

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To help evaluate J. Piaget's and L. Kohlberg's differing theories about the motivational sources of moral realism, 48 5-yr-olds were orally presented stories in which obedient conduct was followed by punishment and disobedient conduct was followed by reward. Stories varied according to whether the character's conduct was given first, followed by the outcome, or vice versa, and according to whether the agent of outcome was a respected adult or chance. Ss' use of the character's conduct, rather than the outcomes, as their basis for moral judgments was measured. Both story order and agent of outcome affected the choice of dimension used. Earlier data reported by Kohlberg and others, in which response outcomes determined many moral judgments, would seem to be artifacts of the story design. Children in this study regularly showed attention to adults and to their rules, as Piaget's theory postulates. (French summary) (8 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)

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