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Young Children See a Single Action and Infer a Social Norm.
Psychol Sci. 2016 10; 27(10):1360-1370.PS

Abstract

Human social life depends heavily on social norms that prescribe and proscribe specific actions. Typically, young children learn social norms from adult instruction. In the work reported here, we showed that this is not the whole story: Three-year-old children are promiscuous normativists. In other words, they spontaneously inferred the presence of social norms even when an adult had done nothing to indicate such a norm in either language or behavior. And children of this age even went so far as to enforce these self-inferred norms when third parties "broke" them. These results suggest that children do not just passively acquire social norms from adult behavior and instruction; rather, they have a natural and proactive tendency to go from "is" to "ought." That is, children go from observed actions to prescribed actions and do not perceive them simply as guidelines for their own behavior but rather as objective normative rules applying to everyone equally.

Authors+Show Affiliations

1 International Junior Research Group Developmental Origins of Human Normativity, Department of Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. 2 Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany.3 Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, University of Maryland, College Park.2 Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany.2 Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

27634004

Citation

Schmidt, Marco F H., et al. "Young Children See a Single Action and Infer a Social Norm." Psychological Science, vol. 27, no. 10, 2016, pp. 1360-1370.
Schmidt MF, Butler LP, Heinz J, et al. Young Children See a Single Action and Infer a Social Norm. Psychol Sci. 2016;27(10):1360-1370.
Schmidt, M. F., Butler, L. P., Heinz, J., & Tomasello, M. (2016). Young Children See a Single Action and Infer a Social Norm. Psychological Science, 27(10), 1360-1370. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797616661182
Schmidt MF, et al. Young Children See a Single Action and Infer a Social Norm. Psychol Sci. 2016;27(10):1360-1370. PubMed PMID: 27634004.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Young Children See a Single Action and Infer a Social Norm. AU - Schmidt,Marco F H, AU - Butler,Lucas P, AU - Heinz,Julia, AU - Tomasello,Michael, Y1 - 2016/09/29/ PY - 2016/9/17/pubmed PY - 2017/12/5/medline PY - 2016/9/17/entrez KW - children KW - cognitive development KW - cooperation KW - open materials KW - social cognition KW - social norms SP - 1360 EP - 1370 JF - Psychological science JO - Psychol Sci VL - 27 IS - 10 N2 - Human social life depends heavily on social norms that prescribe and proscribe specific actions. Typically, young children learn social norms from adult instruction. In the work reported here, we showed that this is not the whole story: Three-year-old children are promiscuous normativists. In other words, they spontaneously inferred the presence of social norms even when an adult had done nothing to indicate such a norm in either language or behavior. And children of this age even went so far as to enforce these self-inferred norms when third parties "broke" them. These results suggest that children do not just passively acquire social norms from adult behavior and instruction; rather, they have a natural and proactive tendency to go from "is" to "ought." That is, children go from observed actions to prescribed actions and do not perceive them simply as guidelines for their own behavior but rather as objective normative rules applying to everyone equally. SN - 1467-9280 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/27634004/Young_Children_See_a_Single_Action_and_Infer_a_Social_Norm_ L2 - https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0956797616661182?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub=pubmed DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -