Development of moral emotions and decision-making from childhood to young adulthood

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Abstract

This study investigated the development of moral decision-making and moral emotion attributions in antisocial behavior and peer relationship dilemma scenarios. Participants were 540 school- and college-aged students, who were asked to explain their moral decision-making, subsequent emotions, and reasoning in regard to the scenarios. We combined moral decision-making (morally appropriate or morally inappropriate) and emotion (positive or negative) to create the four reaction patterns of happy victimizer (HV), unhappy victimizer (UHV), happy moralist (HM), and unhappy moralist (UHM). Across all four scenarios and age groups, there were very few HM reactions, and HV responses were more common among adolescents and adults than among children in jaywalking and peer exclusion scenarios. In contrast, there were no age differences in reaction patterns in shoplifting and broken-promise scenarios; however, more moral considerations in reasoning were revealed among older age groups. The role of peer relationship in emotion attribution is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-399
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Moral Education
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct 1
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Moral decision-making
  • happy moralist (HM)
  • happy victimizer (HV)
  • moral emotion attribution
  • peer relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies

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