Moral suggestibility: the complex interaction of developmental, cultural and contextual factors



In Study 1, 193 children, half in New York City and half in Recife, Brazil, heard hypothetical dilemmas about whether to keep a promise or tell the truth. An adult interviewer suggested the alternative to the child's initial choice. Younger children (5 to 8 year olds) were more suggestible than older children (10 to 12 year olds), US more than Brazilian children; and suggestibility occurred more frequently from promise to truth than vice versa. In Study 2, children in each country were interviewed either by an older adult or by a ‘teenager’. Suggestibility was greater when the interviewer was an adult than a teenager in the US, but not in Brazil. Findings are discussed in terms of developmental trajectories, from heteronomy to autonomy, and authority relations within cultures. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.