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  1. Young Children Enforce Social Norms.Marco F. H. Schmidt & Michael Tomasello - 2012 - Current Directions in Psychological Science 21 (4):232-236.
    Social norms have played a key role in the evolution of human cooperation, serving to stabilize prosocial and egalitarian behavior despite the self-serving motives of individuals. Young children’s behavior mostly conforms to social norms, as they follow adult behavioral directives and instructions. But it turns out that even preschool children also actively enforce social norms on others, often using generic normative language to do so. This behavior is not easily explained by individualistic motives; it is more likely a result of (...)
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  2. Young children attribute normativity to novel actions without pedagogy or normative language.Marco F. H. Schmidt, Hannes Rakoczy & Michael Tomasello - 2011 - Developmental Science 14 (3):530-539.
    Young children interpret some acts performed by adults as normatively governed, that is, as capable of being performed either rightly or wrongly. In previous experiments, children have made this interpretation when adults introduced them to novel acts with normative language (e.g. ‘this is the way it goes’), along with pedagogical cues signaling culturally important information, and with social-pragmatic marking that this action is a token of a familiar type. In the current experiment, we exposed children to novel actions with no (...)
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  3. Young children understand and defend the entitlements of others.Marco F. H. Schmidt, Hannes Rakoczy & Michael Tomasello - forthcoming - Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.
    Human social life is structured by social norms creating both obligations and entitlements. Recent research has found that young children enforce simple obligations against norm violators by protesting. It is not known, however, whether they understand entitlements in the sense that they will actively object to a second party attempting to interfere in something that a third party is entitled to do — what we call counter-protest. In two studies, we found that 3-year-old children understand when a person is entitled (...)
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    On the uniqueness of human normative attitudes.Marco F. H. Schmidt & Hannes Rakoczy - 2019 - In Kurt Bayertz & Neil Roughley (eds.), The Normative Animal?: On the Anthropological Significance of Social, Moral and Linguistic Norms. Foundations of Human Interacti.
    Humans are normative beings through and through. This capacity for normativity lies at the core of uniquely human forms of understanding and regulating socio-cultural group life. Plausibly, therefore, the hominin lineage evolved specialized social-cognitive, motivational, and affective abilities that helped create, transmit, preserve, and amend shared social practices. In turn, these shared normative attitudes and practices shaped subsequent human phylogeny, constituted new forms of group life, and hence structured human ontogeny, too. An essential aspect of human ontogeny is therefore its (...)
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    Children’s developing metaethical judgments.Marco F. H. Schmidt, Ivan Gonzalez-Cabrera & Michael Tomasello - 2017 - Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 164:163-177.
    Human adults incline toward moral objectivism but may approach things more relativistically if different cultures are involved. In this study, 4-, 6-, and 9-year-old children (N = 136) witnessed two parties who disagreed about moral matters: a normative judge (e.g., judging that it is wrong to do X) and an antinormative judge (e.g., judging that it is okay to do X). We assessed children’s metaethical judgment, that is, whether they judged that only one party (objectivism) or both parties (relativism) could (...)
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    The emergence of human prosociality: aligning with others through feelings, concerns, and norms.Keith Jensen, Amrisha Vaish & Marco F. H. Schmidt - 2014 - Frontiers in Psychology 5.
  7.  19
    Preschoolers Understand the Moral Dimension of Factual Claims.Emmily Fedra & Marco F. H. Schmidt - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9:398137.
    Research on children's developing moral cognition has mostly focused on their evaluation of, and reasoning about, others' intrinsically harmful (non-)verbal actions (e.g., hitting, lying). But assertions may have morally relevant (intended or unintended) consequences, too. For instance, if someone wrongly claims that “This water is clean!”, such an incorrect representation of reality may have harmful consequences to others. In two experiments, we investigated preschoolers' evaluation of others' morally relevant factual claims. In Experiment 1, children witnessed a puppet making incorrect assertions (...)
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