Support for this research was provided, in part, by grants from NSERC, CFI, and SSHRC. We would like to thank Heather Bragg and Lee Unger for their assistance with data collection.
An Event-Related Potential Study of Adolescents' and Young Adults' Judgments of Moral and Social Conventional Violations
Version of Record online: 25 OCT 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Child Development © 2012 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
Volume 84, Issue 3, pages 955–969, May/June 2013
How to Cite
Lahat, A., Helwig, C. C. and Zelazo, P. D. (2013), An Event-Related Potential Study of Adolescents' and Young Adults' Judgments of Moral and Social Conventional Violations. Child Development, 84: 955–969. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12001
- Issue online: 8 MAY 2013
- Version of Record online: 25 OCT 2012
The neurocognitive development of moral and conventional judgments was examined. Event-related potentials were recorded while 24 adolescents (13 years) and 30 young adults (20 years) read scenarios with 1 of 3 endings: moral violations, conventional violations, or neutral acts. Participants judged whether the act was acceptable or unacceptable when a rule was assumed or removed. Across age, reaction times were faster for moral than conventional violations when a rule was assumed. Adolescents had larger N2 amplitudes than adults for moral and neutral, but not conventional, acts. N2 amplitudes were larger when a rule was removed than assumed for moral, but not conventional, violations. These findings suggest that the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying moral and conventional judgments continue to develop beyond early adolescence.