Character disposition and behavior type: influences of valence on preschool children's social judgments.J Genet Psychol. 2009 Dec; 170(4):310-25.JG
The authors studied the influences of valence information on preschool children's (n = 47) moral (good or bad), liking (liked or disliked by a friend), and consequence-of-behavior (reward or punishment) judgments. The authors presented 8 scenarios describing the behavior valence, positive valence (help, share), negative valence (verbal insult, physical aggression), and disposition valence (nice or mean) of characters in social interaction with a friend. Overall, character disposition and behavior valence significantly influenced children's judgments. Moral, liking, and consequence-of-behavior judgments varied significantly by character disposition for both positive behavior scenarios. In contrast, there were fewer significant findings as a function of character disposition for negative behavior scenarios, suggesting that the negative behavior cue somewhat diminished the effect of character disposition on children's judgments. The authors discuss preschool students' coordination of information about valence of behavior and character disposition and the students' reluctance to judge that misbehavior warrants punitive consequence.