Moral judgments, attributions of emotion, and their associations were examined in hypothetical, prototypical situations and situations of provocation and peer retaliation. Eighty-one school-age children, 46 kindergartners and first graders and 35 2nd–4th graders, judged prototypical and provoked moral transgressions (hitting and teasing). Children judged hypothetical moral transgressions to be more serious and more deserving of punishment, and they reasoned more about concerns with others’ welfare, for prototypical than for provoked transgressions and when retaliation involved hitting rather than teasing. Children’s moral condemnation of provocation increased with age. Across conditions, children attributed greater happiness to transgressors than to victims; “happy victimizer” responses decreased with age for prototypical but not for provoked transgressions. Moreover, retaliators were seen as both happier and angrier than their victims. Anger increased and sadness decreased with age, but children’s emotion attributions were not associated with their moral judgments about either prototypical or provoked transgressions.
Smetana, Judith G.; Campione-Barr, Nicole; and Yell, Nicole
"Children’s Moral and Affective Judgments
Regarding Provocation and Retaliation,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 49:
2, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol49/iss2/5