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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Young children’s protest: what it can (not) tell us about early normative understanding
Author(s): Brandl, Johannes L
Esken, Frank
Priewasser, Beate
Rafetseder, Eva
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Keywords: Social cognition
Norm understanding
Development of social norms
Normative protest
Norms and conventions
Issue Date: Dec-2015
Date Deposited: 9-Dec-2015
Citation: Brandl JL, Esken F, Priewasser B & Rafetseder E (2015) Young children’s protest: what it can (not) tell us about early normative understanding. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 14 (4), pp. 719-740.
Abstract: In this paper we address the question how children come to understand normativity through simple forms of social interaction. A recent line of research suggests that even very young children can understand social norms quite independently of any moral context. We focus on a methodological procedure developed by Rakoczy et al., Developmental Psychology, 44, 875-881, that measures children's protest behaviour when a pre-established constitutive rule has been violated. Children seem to protest when they realize that rule violations are not allowed or should not have happened. We point out that there is more than one possible explanation for children's reactions in these studies. They could be due to disobeying an authority, an inability to follow a rule, or the violation of an empirical expectation due to the mismatch between statement and action. We thus question whether it would still count as an indicator for normative understanding if children responded to aspects of the game other than the violation of a constitutive rule and conclude that the protesting behavior, when taken in isolation, does not suffice as evidence for normative understanding.
DOI Link: 10.1007/s11097-015-9437-8
Rights: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
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