Children’s evaluations of necessary harm (acts intended to prevent a greater harm) and how maternal disapproval and peer relationship play roles in this context were examined. A total of 120 children at 6, 9, and 12 years of age evaluated scenarios depicting prototypic and necessary (physical or verbal) harm. When a mother was depicted as disapproving of necessary harm, children across ages evaluated the act to be more wrong for verbal (but not physical) harm. In addition, children judged necessary harm to be more wrong when the victim was a disliked peer than a friend. In terms of age differences, 12-year-olds judged necessary physical harm to be less wrong and justified their choices with reference to actors’ positive actions more than did younger children (6- and 9-year-olds). Findings demonstrated that harm type, maternal disapproval, and peer relationship status are related to children’s judgments about necessary harm.
Noh, Jee Young; Jambon, Marc; Smetana, Judith G.; Lee, In Jae; and Killen, Melanie
"Children’s Evaluations of Necessary Harm: The Roles of Maternal Disapproval and Friend Relationship Status,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 66:
2, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol66/iss2/2