Moral and Conventional Violations in Childhood: Brazilians Tolerate Less but Expect More Punishment than U.S. Americans

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
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  • 1 Associate Professor, Center of Humanities, Department of Psychology, Universidade Federal do Ceará, Ceará, Brazil
  • 2 Full Professor, Center of Education and Human Sciences, Department of Psychology, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • 3 Full Professor, Department of Psychology, College of Theology, Arts and Sciences, Malone University, Canton, OH, US
  • 4 Associate Professor, Center for Theology and Human Sciences, Department of Psychology, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Abstract

Brazilian and US American children were compared for differences in tolerance and punishment expectancy. We hypothesized that participants would be less tolerant and more punishing of moral than conventional violations; tolerance and punishment expectancy would relate with age; Brazilians would tolerate less and expect more punishment than US Americans; and social domain would moderate effects of age and nationality. The sample had 129 matched children from Brazil and the USA. Moral/conventional-violation vignettes were used. Mixed-model GLMs suggested that children were less tolerant and more punishing of moral than social-conventional violations. Age effects were significant for tolerance. Brazilians scored lower on tolerance and higher on punishment expectancy than US Americans; they also differentiated less between violation domains than US Americans. These and other results suggest that Brazilians tolerate less but expect more punishment for violations than US Americans. Discussion is based on cultural and socio-historical differences between the two nations.

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