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Children judge in-group members more favorably than out-group members. They also judge moral transgressions as more serious and more worthy of punishment than conventional transgressions. Here we asked whether children's judgments of moral and conventional transgressions vary by the group membership of the transgressor (in-group, neutral, out-group, or self). In addition, we asked whether judgments of the transgressions would extend to the transgressors themselves, including cases in which the self was the transgressor. Results show that transgressions committed by out-group members were judged as being more serious and more punish-worthy than those committed by members of other groups. In addition, children judged out-group transgressors more harshly, and the self more leniently, than other group members. Overall, results suggest that group membership does affect judgments of transgressions and transgressors, with out-group members consistently judged the most negatively and the self consistently judged the least negatively. However, when judging the transgressor or the seriousness of the transgression, domain distinctions do persist even as group membership varies. Although, when assigning punishment, domain distinctions persist only when judging the transgressions of out-group members and neutral individuals. These findings demonstrate the powerful effect of group membership on the judgments of both acts and actors, indicating that when judging transgressions children consider not only the moral or conventional status of the act but also the group membership of the actor.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Journal of experimental child psychology
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Group behavior toward others by virtue of their group membership.
Barriers based on group membership.
The movement or shifting of membership between or within social classes by individuals or by groups.
Individuals or groups, excluded from participation in the economic, social, and political activities of membership in a community.
The branch of psychology concerned with the effects of group membership upon the behavior, attitudes, and beliefs of an individual.
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