moral reasoning, aggression, gender
Elementary school children’s moral reasoning concerning physical and relational aggression was explored. Fourth and fifth graders rated physical aggression as more wrong and harmful than relational aggression but tended to adopt a moral orientation about both forms of aggression. Gender differences in moral judgments of aggression were observed, with girls rating physical and relational aggression as more wrong and relational aggression as more harmful than boys. In addition, girls were more likely to adopt a moral orientation when judging physical and relational aggression and girls more often judged relational aggression than physical aggression from the moral domain. Finally, moral reasoning about aggression was associated with physically and relationally aggressive behavior. Considered together, the results indicate that children tend to adopt a moral orientation about aggression, but that they nonetheless differentiate between physical and relational aggression in their moral judgments.
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Murray-Close, D., Crick, N. R., & Galotti, K. M. (2006). Children's Moral Reasoning Regarding Physical and Relational Aggression. Social Development, 15 (3): 345-372. Accessed via Faculty Work. Cognitive Science. Carleton Digital Commons. https://digitalcommons.carleton.edu/cgsc_faculty/3