Children's Moral Orientation: does the gender of dilemma character make a difference?

Journal of Moral Education 26 (1):45-58 (1997)
Abstract
Abstract Previous work has found few gender differences in moral orientation among children. Two experiments were conducted with third grade children (8?year?olds) to learn if children's moral orientation would be affected by the gender of dilemma characters: all male, all female, or mixed gender. Children responded to stories in which animal characters faced a conflict. Children's suggestions as to how the characters should solve their problems were coded as expressing a concern for others (care orientation) or a focus on issues of rights and justice (rights orientation). Both boys and girls showed a small but consistent preference for the care orientation, and their reasoning was not influenced by the gender of the characters. Children tended to misremember female animal story characters as male (Experiment 1), unless an illustration depicting the characters? gender accompanied the text (Experiment 2). Overall, the results point to the role of children's literature in creating stereotyped expectations about male and female story characters, and emphasise the initial similarity of boys? and girls? moral orientation in childhood
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