Moral domain theory posits that moral knowledge is organized in separate domains related to moral and socio-conventional rules, with the latter being reliant on a statement made by authority. Domains may be contingent on different neuropsychological processing that may vary with age. Behavioral indices were measured in three age groups, to detect differences in the neuropsychological processing allegedly involved in the evaluation of rule transgressions in different domains. Acceptance of the transgressions was also investigated. Twenty-four children, 32 early adolescents, and 31 adolescents judged acceptability of rule transgressions when an authority figure allowed the transgression. Across age, moral-rule transgressions were less accepted and took significantly longer to be evaluated. In evaluating moral rule scenarios, children had the longest reaction times. Older adolescents took the least amount of time evaluating socio-conventional rule scenarios. Results suggest differences in the neuropsychological processing underlying decision making for moral and socio-conventional domains and that rule comprehension and distinction amongst domains increase by age.
- moral development