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Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica

Print version ISSN 0102-7972

Abstract

LA TAILLE, Yves de. The importance of generosity at the begining of moral development in childhood. Psicol. Reflex. Crit. [online]. 2006, vol.19, n.1, pp. 9-17. ISSN 0102-7972.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0102-79722006000100003.

In the present research, we analyse the role of generosity in the moral universe of childhood. We begin by defining generosity as a moral virtue, comparing it with justice. Then, we present a literature review of generosity-related psychological elements (ethics of care, pro-social attitudes, sympathy) and establish the hypothesis that this virtue is better understood than justice by subjects who are six and nine years of age. To test this hypothesis, we present the results of two empirical studies with 6 and 9 year old children, in which we asked that they attribute feelings to people acting unjustly and ungenerously. While we confirm previous studies showing that six year olds have the tendency to attribute positive feelings to unjust people, the results show that negative feelings are attributed to ungenerous people. The discussion of this data defends the hypothesis according to which generosity, being less dependent of adult rules and impositions, has deeper roots than justice in the child's moral conscience.

Keywords : Moral; generosity; justice; development.

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