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Factors Influencing Young Children's Use of Motives and Outcomes as Moral Criteria

by Sharon A Nelson
Child Development ()


Young children's use of motives and outcomes as moral criteria was measured under 3 modes of story presentation (verbal only, verbal plus pictures with the motive merely implied, and verbal plus pictures with the motive portrayed explicitly). 4 stories combining positive and negative motives and outcomes were presented to the children in each of the 3 groups. Recall for the critical story information was also assessed. Results supported these hypotheses: (1) that children as young as 3 years of age can and do use motive information for making moral judgments when this information is explicit, salient, and available; (2) that when motive and outcome have opposite valences, children tend to recall the story so as to make them congruent. The results are discussed in terms of the influence of the young child's comprehension processes on recall and moral judgments.

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