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Understanding of Permission Rules by Preschool Children

Paul L. Harris and María Núñez
Child Development
Vol. 67, No. 4 (Aug., 1996), pp. 1572-1591
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1131719
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131719
Page Count: 20
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Understanding of Permission Rules by Preschool Children
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Abstract

In 4 experiments, 3- and 4-year-olds displayed an understanding of actions that would breach a permission rule. In Experiment 1, children heard stories about a protagonist given permission to perform an action if a condition was met (e. g., play outside if a coat was worn). When shown 2 pictures of the protagonist performing the action either meeting or not meeting the condition, children identified the protagonist as being naughty in the picture showing the condition not being met (e. g., playing outside without a coat). In Experiment 2, children appropriately chose between pictures where the condition was not met and the action either was or was not being taken. In Experiment 3, they similarly identified breaches of a novel rule. In Experiment 4, they were more accurate in identifying actions inconsistent with a rule that was couched as a prescription rather than a description. Implications for children's understanding of conditional rules are discussed.

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