Children's judgments regarding the emotional consequences of different types of sociomoral events
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This study examined children's judgments about the emotional consequences of transgressing or following different types of sociomoral rules and the relations of these emotion judgments to variations in children's Theory of Mind (ToM) related abilities. It was expected that children's emotion judgments (including both emotion attributions and rationales for those judgments) would vary as a function of children's age, the nature of the sociomoral rule, and whether the rule was followed (willpower condition) or not followed (transgression condition).;The participants were 72 four to eight-year old children in three age groups: 4-year olds, 5- to 6-year olds, and 7- to 8-year olds. Children were individually administered two counter-balanced interviews spaced, on average, 4 to 6 weeks apart. In one interview children were given a standard assessment of variations in their ToM-related abilities. In the other interview, children were read vignettes from three sociomoral domains: moral events involving fairness and/or harm, conventional events involving matters of custom and etiquette, and prudential events involving potential harm to the self. Following these stories, children judged the emotional consequences of the event for the story actor and then explained the emotion selected.;Results revealed that children distinguished between the emotional outcomes of willpower and transgression conditions; however, only a few other differences were found in children's emotion attributions. By contrast, children's rationales for their emotion choices were more differentiated. Rationales differed across the willpower and transgression conditions. Children's rationales also differed depending on the domain of the event. Children were more likely to focus on features specific to each domain. For example, in moral transgressions, children discussed harm towards others. Although older children did have more developed ToM-related abilities than younger children, children's ToM abilities were no more predictive of their emotional reasoning than was their chronological age.
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