Reasoning About Responsibilities and Obligations in Close Relationships
AbstractThe study compares sociomoral reasoning of children and adolescents in Iceland, longitudinally assessed at ages 7, 9, 12, and 15 years ( = 97), and in China, cross-sectionally assessed at corresponding ages ( = 350). Participants reasoned about choices, motives, and moral justifications of a protagonist in a sociomoral dilemma. The dilemma allows persons to focus on different concerns (e.g., promise keeping or close friendship vs. self-interest or altruism toward a 3rd person). Overall, Icelandic participants referred more often to self-interest and contractual concerns, whereas Chinese participants focused on altruistic and relationship concerns. However, some cultural differences remained stable over time, whereas others decreased. In adolescence, close friendship became an equally important value in both cultures. The results indicate a complex interaction of culture and development in sociomoral reasoning.