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Young children’s protest: what it can (not) tell us about early normative understanding

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.

Keywords
Social cognition; Norm understanding; Development of social norms; Normative protest; Norms and conventions

StatusPublished
AuthorsBrandl Johannes L, Esken Frank, Priewasser Beate, Rafetseder Eva
Publication date12/2015
Publication date online19/09/2015
PublisherSpringer
ISSN 1568-7759
LanguageEnglish

Journal
Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences: Volume 14, Issue 4 (2015)

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