An Event-Related Potential Study of Adolescents' and Young Adults' Judgments of Moral and Social Conventional Violations

Ayelet Lahat, Charles C. Helwig, Philip David Zelazo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

The neurocognitive development of moral and conventional judgments was examined. Event-related potentials were recorded while 24 adolescents (13 years) and 30 young adults (20 years) read scenarios with 1 of 3 endings: moral violations, conventional violations, or neutral acts. Participants judged whether the act was acceptable or unacceptable when a rule was assumed or removed. Across age, reaction times were faster for moral than conventional violations when a rule was assumed. Adolescents had larger N2 amplitudes than adults for moral and neutral, but not conventional, acts. N2 amplitudes were larger when a rule was removed than assumed for moral, but not conventional, violations. These findings suggest that the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying moral and conventional judgments continue to develop beyond early adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)955-969
Number of pages15
JournalChild development
Volume84
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2013

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