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Dev Psychol. 2014 Apr;50(4):1148-59. doi: 10.1037/a0035191. Epub 2013 Dec 2.

The role of moral emotions in the development of children's sharing behavior.

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Department of Psychology.


This study investigated the role of moral emotions in the development of children's sharing behavior (N = 244 4-, 8-, and 12-year-old children). Children's sympathy was measured with both self- and primary caregiver-reports, and participants anticipated their negatively and positively valenced moral emotions (i.e., feeling guilty, sad, or bad; and feeling proud, happy, or good) following actions that either violated or upheld moral norms. Sharing was measured through children's allocation of resources in the dictator game. Children's self-reported sympathy emerged as a significant predictor of sharing in early childhood. For children with low levels of sympathy, sharing was also predicted by negatively valenced moral emotions following the failure to perform prosocial actions. In addition, results demonstrated an age-related increase in sharing for boys between ages 4 and 8 and a decrease in sharing for boys between ages 8 and 12. We discuss the findings in relation to the emergence of 2 compensatory emotional pathways to sharing, 1 via sympathy and 1 via negatively valenced moral emotions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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