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Children's Reasoning about Interpersonal and Moral Conflicts

Judith G. Smetana, Melanie Killen and Elliot Turiel
Child Development
Vol. 62, No. 3 (Jun., 1991), pp. 629-644
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1131136
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131136
Page Count: 16
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Children's Reasoning about Interpersonal and Moral Conflicts
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Abstract

2 studies were conducted to determine if children make judgments about both justice and interpersonal relations in conflictful situations. In Study 1, 48 subjects (24 males and 24 females) in the third, sixth, and ninth grades (mean ages = 8.40, 11.38, 14.38 years) were administered 2 stories entailing conflicts between justice and interpersonal concerns. Children judged and justified acts in 4 conditions systematically varying interpersonal and justice concerns. Children generally gave priority to justice and rights over friendship, based primarily on considerations of welfare or rights. In Study 2, 76 subjects (39 males and 37 females) in the third, sixth, and ninth grades (mean ages = 9.08, 12.10, 14.92 years) were presented with 3 stories entailing conflicts between justice and interpersonal relations. Subjects gave greater priority to interpersonal considerations in Study 2 than in Study 1, and their evaluations varied according to the salience of the different concerns. In both studies, few gender differences were obtained. The results demonstrate that across development, concerns with justice and interpersonal relationships coexist in judgments of male and female children, and that the ways they are applied depend on the situation.

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