Journal of Moral Education 39 (1):1-20 (2010)

In this paper we argue that moral behaviour is largely situation?specific. Genetic make?up, neurobiological factors, attachment security and rearing experiences have only limited influence on individual differences in moral performance. Moral behaviour does not develop in a linear and cumulative fashion and individual morality is not stable across time and situations. To illustrate our position we present two studies on children?s willingness to donate their money to a charity (UNICEF) as a prime example of pro?social behaviour. In two samples of seven?year?old children we found no evidence for a role of attachment, temperament or parenting. Using a twin design we did not find any evidence for a genetic component either. The most striking finding in both studies was that very few children were inclined to donate any money after viewing a promotional UNICEF film about children suffering from poverty. Only after gentle probing by an experimenter were most children willing to donate some of their money. The situation appeared to be a much more powerful determinant of donating behaviour than any other factor. These findings are discussed in the broader context of evidence for situational canalisation of moral behaviour. We conclude that moral competence may be a universal human characteristic, but that it takes a situation with specific demand?characteristics to translate this competence into actual prosocial performance
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/03057240903528535
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 58,425
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Moral Judgement of the Child.Jean Piaget - 1933 - Philosophy 8 (31):373-374.
The Descent of Man.Charles Darwin - 1874 - Prometheus Books.
Morality: An Evolutionary Account.Dennis Krebs - 2008 - Perspectives on Psychological Science 3 (3):149-172.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Situational Logic and Covering Law Explanations in History.Michael Martin - 1968 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 11 (1-4):388 – 399.
Cruelty: A Dispositional or a Situational Behavior in Man?Mika Haritos-Fatouros - 2006 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (3):230-230.
Reconciling Situational Social Psychology with Virtue Ethics.Surendra Arjoon - 2008 - International Journal of Management Reviews 10 (3):221-243.
Hearts of Darkness: 'Perpetrator History' and Why There is No Why.Paul A. Roth - 2004 - History of the Human Sciences 17 (2-3):211-251.
Situational Morality.Robert W. Gleason - 1957 - Thought: Fordham University Quarterly 32 (4):533-558.


Added to PP index

Total views
21 ( #497,066 of 2,420,827 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #543,702 of 2,420,827 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes