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When it's not easy to do the right thing: Developmental changes in understanding cost drive evaluations of moral praiseworthiness.

dc.contributor.author Zhao, Xin
dc.contributor.author Kushnir, Tamar
dc.date.accessioned 2022-05-16T15:26:45Z
dc.date.available 2022-05-16T15:26:45Z
dc.date.issued 2022-03-18
dc.identifier.issn 1363-755X
dc.identifier.issn 1467-7687
dc.identifier.uri https://hdl.handle.net/10161/25045
dc.description.abstract Recent work identified a shift in judgments of moral praiseworthiness that occurs late in development: adults recognize the virtue of moral actions that involve resolving an inner conflict between moral desires and selfish desires. Children, in contrast, praise agents who do the right thing in the absence of inner conflict. This finding stands in contrast with other work showing that children incorporate notions of cost and effort into their social reasoning. Using a modified version of Starmans and Bloom's (2016) vignettes, we show that understanding the virtue of costly moral action precedes understanding the virtue of resolving inner conflict. In two studies (N = 192 children, range = 4.00-9.95 years; and N = 193 adults), we contrasted a character who paid a personal cost (psychological in Study 1, physical in Study 2) to perform a moral action with another who acted morally without paying a cost. We found a developmental progression; 8- and 9-year-old children and adults recognized the praiseworthiness of moral actions that are psychologically or physically costly. Six- and 7-year-old children only recognized the praiseworthiness of moral actions that are physically costly, but not actions that are psychologically costly. Moreover, neither adults nor children inferred that paying a cost to act morally required having a moral desire or resolving inner conflict. These results suggest that both adults and children conceptualize obligation as a direct motivational force on actions. They further suggest that costly choice-a hallmark of moral agency-is implicated in judgments of praiseworthiness early in development.
dc.language eng
dc.publisher Wiley
dc.relation.ispartof Developmental science
dc.relation.isversionof 10.1111/desc.13257
dc.subject cognitive development
dc.subject costly choice
dc.subject decision making
dc.subject moral development
dc.subject social cognition
dc.title When it's not easy to do the right thing: Developmental changes in understanding cost drive evaluations of moral praiseworthiness.
dc.type Journal article
duke.contributor.id Kushnir, Tamar|1108335
dc.date.updated 2022-05-16T15:26:43Z
pubs.begin-page e13257
pubs.organisational-group Duke
pubs.organisational-group Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
pubs.organisational-group Philosophy
pubs.organisational-group Psychology & Neuroscience
pubs.organisational-group Institutes and Provost's Academic Units
pubs.organisational-group University Institutes and Centers
pubs.organisational-group Duke Institute for Brain Sciences
pubs.publication-status Published
duke.contributor.orcid Kushnir, Tamar|0000-0002-7656-6292


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