Young Children's Understanding of Beliefs about Moral and Conventional Rule Violations

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Children of ages 3–5 (N = 62) were assessed by using standard theory-of-mind tasks and unusual belief tasks related to false information and beliefs endorsing violations of moral (welfare and fairness) and social conventional (school rules) domains. Younger children (under 5 years) did not accurately attribute unusual factual beliefs or beliefs endorsing rule violations whether or not they passed the standard theory-of-mind tasks. Only participants over age 5 performed above chance in attributions of unusual beliefs. Domain differences indicated that beliefs endorsing harm were often most difficult for children, perhaps because the beliefs were the least plausible and most obligatory.

Merrill-Palmer Quarterly
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Clare Conry-Murray
Associate Professor of Psychology

My research interests include social development, including moral development, gender development and culture.