Development of children's prosocial moral judgment

Nancy Eisenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Examined (a) the development of children's reasoning about prosocial moral dilemmas (those situations in which the needs of one individual conflict with those of others in a context in which the effects of laws, rules, punishment, authorities, and formal obligations are minimized or irrelevant), and (b) the relationship of structure of prosocial moral judgment to story solution. 125 elementary and high school students responded to 4 moral dilemmas involving prosocial conflicts. Elementary school children's reasoning tended to be hedonistic, stereotyped, approval and interpersonally oriented, and/or tended to involve the labeling of others' needs. Stereotyped images of persons and interpersonally or approval-oriented reasoning decreased in frequency with age, whereas clearly empathic considerations and judgments reflecting internalized values increased in use with age. Empathic moral concerns comprised much of the Ss' moral reasoning. Type of moral judgment was related to the way Ss said a moral conflict should be resolved. (23 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-137
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 1979


  • empathic oral reasoning & story solution in moral conflict situation, development & structure of prosocial moral judgment, 2nd & 4th & 6th & 9th & 11th-12th graders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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