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Domain Differences in Early Social Interactions


  • This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (BCS 0958241), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD 39925; both to JJC), the Amini Foundation (JJC and AD), the UC Berkeley Institute of Human Development, and the Norway-America Association (both to AD). We thank Elliot Turiel, Susan D. Holloway, Larry P. Nucci, and Rachel K. Schuck for comments on previous drafts; Rachel K. Schuck for assistance with data collection; and C. Jennifer Hung and Zi Lin Sim for data coding.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Audun Dahl, Institute of Human Development, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1690. Electronic mail may be sent to


Different social experiences help children develop distinctions between domains of norms. This study investigated whether mothers respond differently to moral, prudential, and pragmatic norms during the 2nd year, a period that precedes the time when children are able to make explicit distinctions between these norms. Sixty mothers of infants between 11 and 23 months were interviewed. Mothers' reports of their initial interventions, changes in intervention following noncompliance, and emotional reactions depended on normative domain. Initial interventions were less differentiated by domain for mothers of older than for mothers of younger children. These findings suggest that children have social experiences in the 2nd year that are associated with distinctions among normative domains.