Culture, Ethnic Conflict and Moral Orientation in Bosnian Children

Journal of Moral Education 32 (2):131-150 (2003)
Abstract
Previous research has identified two moral orientations in people's reasoning about moral dilemmas: an orientation to rights, fairness, and justice and another based on care, compassion and concern for others and the self. To investigate the association of political violence and ethnic conflict with children's preferred moral orientation, two studies were conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the first with 10-12-year-olds and the second with 6-8- and 9-11-year-olds. In the first study, children's solutions to dilemmas involving animal characters were most likely to reflect an orientation to care and concern rather than to justice and fairness. In the second study, children who responded to stories involving humans were even more likely to offer solutions from the care perspective than those who heard stories about animals. No consistent gender differences were observed. These results were generally similar to those from North American samples; however, the content of Bosnian children's responses also reflected their experiences with displacement and their concerns about the role of physical power in conflict resolution
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