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Children's play narrative responses to hypothetical dilemmas and their awareness of moral emotions

Woolgar, M; Steele, H; Steele, M; Yabsley, S; Fonagy, P; (2001) Children's play narrative responses to hypothetical dilemmas and their awareness of moral emotions. British Journal of Developmental Psychology , 19 (1) pp. 115-128. 10.1348/026151001165994.

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Abstract

Five-year-old children's moral development was assessed using a projective doll-play technique (the MacArthur Story Stem Battery; MSSB), an emotion-understanding task, concurrent maternal reports of behaviour problems and child performance in a cheating task. Three narrative scales were derived from the children's MSSB play themes: a non-physical punishment scale, a prosocial scale and an antisocial scale. The children's use of non-physical disciplining themes was related to their awareness of moral emotions. The antisocial and prosocial narrative scales were related to concurrent maternal ratings of externalizing and internalizing problems, respectively. Although the emotions children anticipated in the emotion-understanding task did not predict behaviour in the cheating task, their justifications for the different emotions tended to do so, as did the prosocial play narrative scale. The findings suggest a degree of coherence across the assessments of moral development, and are discussed with reference to children's script-based understanding.

Type: Article
Title: Children's play narrative responses to hypothetical dilemmas and their awareness of moral emotions
DOI: 10.1348/026151001165994
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/186827
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