Children's moral evaluations of lie-telling and truth-telling in modesty contexts
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Children’s moral evaluations of lie-telling and truth-telling, are influenced by culture (Lee, Cameron, Xu, Fu, & Board, 1997; Lee, Xu, Fu, Cameron, & Chen, 2001). Compared with Canadian children, eleven year olds Chinese children tend to rate modest lie-telling (lies about a good deed you have done) more positively than immodest truth-telling (admit a good deed you have done) (Lee et al., 1997; Lee et al., 2001). Additionally, older Chinese children (11 year olds) were more likely to rate modest lie-telling positively than younger children (7 and 9 year olds) (Lee et al., 2001). However, research suggested that specific social context could also influence people’s moral evaluations (Sweester, 1987). Previous research centered on this topic never considered a collaborative context in which children tend to show more modesty to their partner (Banerjee, 2000). The present study bridges this gap by investigating American children’s moral evaluations of lie-telling and truth-telling involving a collaborative context. All the children were recruited from an elementary lab school located in South Texas where the student body is comprised of 60 percent Hispanic population. We found that even American children tended to rate modest lie-telling more positively than immodest truth-telling in a pro-social situation when a collaborative context was involved. Also, there was a tendency for older (10-11 year olds) children to rate the modest lie-telling more positively than younger (7-8 year olds) children. Lastly, children spent more time in making a corresponding moral evaluation when lie-telling occurred in a pro-social context. This study suggests that the explanation of the modesty effect built on cultural factors might not be complete. Specific social contexts may also have an important effect.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of MASTER of ARTS in PSYCHOLOGY from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas.