Children's understanding of social rules and social status

Chris Pawson, Gavin Nobes

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Children's understanding of social rules and authority was investigated by asking 4–9 year-olds (N = 129) about stories in which the status (adult or child) of rule inventors, transgressors, and changers was varied. The rules were conventions invented by adults and by children, cultural conventions, and morals. Judgments of transgressions and, in particular, alterations, were influenced by status as well as domain: Children considered transgressions and alterations by children less permissible than by adults, and adult-invented conventions less alterable than child-invented conventions. Alterations of adults' rules by children were thought almost as illegitimate as alterations of morals. Other influences on judgments included children's age, story content, and whether a convention was cultural or newly invented. These findings suggest an explanation of Piaget's findings that differs from his own.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-99
JournalMerrill-Palmer Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


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