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Children's Social Interactions in the Context of Moral and Conventional Transgressions

Larry P. Nucci and Maria Santiago Nucci
Child Development
Vol. 53, No. 2 (Apr., 1982), pp. 403-412
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1128983
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1128983
Page Count: 10
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Children's Social Interactions in the Context of Moral and Conventional Transgressions
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Abstract

Observations were made in 10 schools at the second, fifth-, and seventh-grade levels of the forms of responses teachers and children provided to moral and social conventional transgressions. A total of 439 moral and 1,045 social conventional events were observed. It was found that the responses of both teachers and children to social conventional events differed from their responses to moral events. Children were much more likely to respond to moral events than to conventional events. Their responses to moral events revolved around the intrinsic (hurtful or unjust) consequences of the actions upon victims. Children's responses to conventional transgressions focused on aspects of the social order (that is, rules, normative expectations). Children showed an increased tendency to respond to convention with age. Teachers were more likely to respond to social conventional than to moral events. Their responses to the two forms of transgression complemented the responses made by children. Both the teacher and child forms of response to transgression changed with child age. In a second aspect of the study it was found, through interviews of children about ongoing events, that the children made a conceptual discrimination between the observed moral and conventional events.

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