Children's Conscience During Toddler and Preschool Years, Moral Self, and a Competent, Adaptive Developmental Trajectory

Developmental Psychology, Volume 46, Issue 5, pages 1320-1332.

By Kochanska, Grazyna; Koenig, Jamie L.; Barry, Robin A.; Kim, Sanghag; and Yoon, Jeung Eun.

Abstract: We investigated whether children's robust conscience, formed during early family socialization, promotes their future adaptive and competent functioning in expanded ecologies. We assessed two dimensions of conscience in young children (N = 100) at 25, 38, and 52 months in scripted laboratory contexts: internalization of their mothers' and fathers' rules, observed when the child was alone, and empathic concern toward each parent, observed in simulated distress paradigms. We also assessed the child's self-perception on moral dimensions (the moral self), using a puppet interview at 67 months. At 80 months, parents and teachers produced an overall measure of competent, adaptive functioning by rating children on multiple scales of competent, prosocial, rule-abiding behavior and antisocial behavior. As expected, children with histories of a stronger internalization of both parents' rules were more competent and better socialized; for maternal rules, that link was mediated by the child's moral self. The link between the child's history of empathy toward the mother and future socialization was also significant, but it was not mediated by the moral self. This study elucidates the roles of classic components of morality-moral conduct, affect, and self-as antecedents of an adaptive developmental trajectory from toddler to early school age.

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(Something interesting I found)Posted: Monday, November 15, 2010 by agomberg
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