Development of Intra- and Intergroup Judgments in the Context of Moral and Social-Conventional Norms


  • We thank the children who participated in the study and the teachers who assisted us as well as the parents who provided consent for their children to participate. The research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation/Development and Learning Sciences (0840492). We thank the graduate students Shelby Cooley, Laura Elenbaas, Maike Geiling, Megan Clark Kelly, Cameron Richardson, and Marcel Stefanik for their assistance as well as the undergraduate research assistants and summer interns Samantha Cibelli, Shawnee Cohn, Sara Edelberg, Nilo Fallay-Sohy, Shawnese Gilpin, Naomi Heilweil, Kimberly Hypolite, Aliya Mann, Madiha Moin, Jamie Ott, Kaye Schacter, Josselyn Sheer, Kristina Shieh, Lisa Weinberg, Sarah Weindorf, Rivka Weiss, and Mehwish Quershi.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Melanie Killen, Professor of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Electronic mail may be sent to


Children and adolescents evaluated group inclusion and exclusion in the context of generic and group-specific norms involving morality and social conventions. Participants (= 381), aged 9.5 and 13.5 years, judged an in-group member's decision to deviate from the norms of the group, whom to include, and whether their personal preference was the same as what they expected a group should do. Deviating from in-group moral norms about unequal allocation of resources was viewed more positively than deviating from conventional norms about nontraditional dress codes. With age, participants gave priority to group-specific norms and differentiated what the group should do from their own preference about the group's decision, revealing a developmental picture about children's complex understanding of group dynamics and group norms.