Children’s Opinions Through Social and Moral Judgement on Racial and Gender Differences.

Topics: Gender, Kohlberg's stages of moral development, Jean Piaget Pages: 6 (2101 words) Published: September 28, 2008
This research will be looking into the moral, social-conventional and personal reasoning that co-exist in children’s evaluations of inclusion and exclusion, racial prejudice and gender differences. It is noted that the priority given to these forms of judgments varies by the age of the child, the context and the target of exclusion which is discussed in previous studies. Racial prejudice is a pre-formed personal opinion about individuals on the basis of their race. For example, John thinks that Mary will have bad attribute X solely because Mary is a member of race Y. According to Kohlberg’s (1984) foundational stage model of moral development which had followed Piaget’s research on moral judgement, Children justify acts as right or wrong on the first basis of consequences to the self which is known as the pre-conventional stage. In terms of group norms (the conventional stage) and the post-conventional stage, this means a justice perspective in which individual principles of how to treat one another are understood. In a study conducted by Clark, Hocevar & Dembo (1980) It is discussed that children’s understanding of the origins of race followed a developmental hierarchy and correlated significantly with performance on previously researched measures of physical conservation, physical casualty and social identity. In recent research, the possibility that skin colour preference is influenced by social desirability among children has been discussed. In Clark et al. (1980) study, current explanations of pro-white prejudice among young children have included child-rearing practices, personality organisation, a generalised fear of the dark, an amount of interracial contact and also the teaching of prejudice in a larger society through reinforcement and modeling. The theoretical researches discussed in Clark et al. (1980) explain that perceptual and cognitive processes are both significant in the acquisition of attitudes. The focus of this study was to investigate the cognitive prerequisites that underlie a child’s understanding of the origins of skin colour. The Preschool Racial Attitude Measure II (PRAM II) had been used to measure attitudes toward skin colour. These measures were based on a variation of the semantic differential, requiring the subject to assign ‘good’ or ‘bad’ qualities to coloured drawings of white and of black people. Children’s casual attributions concerning skin colour had correlated significantly with age as well as developmental measures of physical conservation, comprehension of physical casualty and the conservation of social identity. (Clark et al, 1980) This was also seen in the work of Katz (1976) who argued that a child’s perceptions and concepts about people should follow the same developmental rules as their perceptions and concepts about other stimuli. Katz (1976) shows that although the process of acquisition of ‘racial’ attitudes is similar to the formation of other attitudes should not be analysed independently of other ongoing internal processes of the child, their development must be viewed as a consequence of children’s socialisation within a society where racist attitudes prevail. Racism is a consequence of social processes and institutional structures rather than individual tendency to categorise which is implemented in the workings of Clark, Hocevar & Dembo (1980). Even though social cognition is a reasonable explanation for the decrease in pro-white bias associated with a black examiner, the increase in pro-white bias from the age of three to six was more challenging to explain. It can be viewed in Clark et al (1980) that several researchers have reported a similar effect using different measures of racial attitudes. Killen (2007) states that social judgments do not reflect one broad template or stage such as Kohlberg’s pre-conventional stage to characterize childhood morality. (p.32). Instead children tend to use different forms of reasoning, moral, conventional and psychological all...
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