Two children’s conversations with adults were examined for reference to moral issues using transcripts of archived at-home family talk from the Child Language Data Exchange System (CHILDES) database (MacWhinney, 2000). Through target words (e.g., good, wrong, mean) in transcripts of two children between ages 2.5 and 5.0 years, 1,333 moral conversations were identified. Conversations were examined for whether and when children discussed moral issues, how they used moral words (e.g., to communicate feelings, ask for reasons, etc.), what was discussed and in what contexts, and whether children were active or passive contributors. The resulting case study portraits of early moral sensibility extend and challenge extant findings, revealing substantive differences between the two children’s moral sensibilities as well as commonalities, including a tendency to be active rather than passive in moral conversation, to focus on the dispositions/ behaviors of others, and to engage in moral conversation primarily to give/ask for reasons, communicate feelings, and (dis)approve.
Cole Wright, Jennifer and Bartsch, Karen
"Portraits of Early Moral Sensibility
in Two Children’s Everyday Conversations,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 54:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol54/iss1/4