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The development of intent-based moral judgment and moral behavior in the context of indirect reciprocity: A cross-cultural study

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Tomasello,  Michael
Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Li, J., Hou, W., Zhu, L., & Tomasello, M. (2020). The development of intent-based moral judgment and moral behavior in the context of indirect reciprocity: A cross-cultural study. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 44(6), 525-533. doi:10.1177/0165025420935636.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-C11A-3
Abstract
The current study aimed to investigate the cultural differences in the developmental origins of children’s intent-based moral judgment and moral behavior in the context of indirect reciprocity. To this end, we compared how German and Chinese children interpret and react to antisocial and prosocial interactions between puppets. An actor puppet performed either a positive or negative act toward a prosocial or antisocial target puppet with the intention to cause harm or not; 197 three and five-year-old children participated as a third party and were asked to judge the actor puppet’s behavior and to distribute stickers. Results showed that 3-year-old Chinese children were able to take intention and context into account when making moral judgments and distributing resources, whereas German children did not show sensitivity to intention until the age of 5. These findings suggest that culture may mediate children’s intent-based moral judgment and moral behavior in the context of indirect reciprocity.