The Development of Moral and Social Judgments: Social Contexts and Processes of Coordination

Elliot TURIEL1, K. Amy BANAS2
1University of California, Berkeley
2Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley
DOI: 10.14689/ejer.2020.85.2

The research presented in this essay is grounded in Social Domain Theory. Research provides substantial evidence that children’s social development is characterized by the formation of distinctly different systems of thought, including those in the moral, social-conventional, and personal domains. A main focus here is on morality, defined as involving understandings of welfare, justice, and rights, which are applied across societal contexts.
Social conventions are uniformities within social systems, serving to provide uniform expectations. The domains constitute different configurations of thinking and developmental changes occur within each domain. However, decisions in social situational contexts often involve coordination, which is a process of weighing and balancing different and sometimes conflicting considerations. Such social contexts can include conflicts between different moral goals or between moral and societal goals. Processes of coordination are examined in social psychological experiments, as well as developmental studies of topics like honesty, rights, and social inclusion. Coordination is also considered in people’s perspectives on cultural practices of unfairness and inequality. Psychological research in patriarchal societies shows that females, who are subjected to inequalities evaluate those cultural practices as unfair. Anthropological research documents that females engage in acts of opposition and moral resistance regarding perceived unfair cultural practices.
Keywords: Domains, morality, coordination, moral resistance.