Moral Development: The Association between Maltreatment and Young Children's Prosocial Behaviors and Moral Transgressions

Amy L. Koenig, Dante Cicchetti, Fred A. Rogosch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this investigation, the moral development of physically abused (N = 28), neglected (N = 26), and nonmaltreated (N = 28) five-year-old children from low socioeconomic backgrounds was examined through observational measures of prosocial behaviors, moral transgressions, and emotions associated with moral development. Findings showed that physically abused children engaged in more stealing behaviors, whereas neglected children engaged in significantly more cheating behavior and less rule-compatible behavior compared to nonmaltreated children. In addition, maltreatment status differences interacted with gender on several of the moral paradigms. Physically abused girls displayed significantly less guilt and fewer donation behaviors than neglected girls. The clinical implications for maltreated children's moral development are discussed, and targeted interventions are suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-106
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Development
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 26 2004
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Maltreatment
  • Moral transgressions
  • Prosocial behaviors

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