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The Impacts of Moral Evaluations and Descriptive Norms on Children's and Adolescents’ Tolerance of Transgression

  • Jin Wang (a1), Xinyuan Fu (a1), Lange Zhang (a1) and Yu Kou (a1)


Tolerance of transgressions can influence the social cognitive and moral development of children and adolescents. Given the prevalent tolerance for bribery throughout the developing world and in China, the present research identified bribery as a serious transgression and investigated the various effects of moral evaluations and descriptive norms on transgression tolerance with increasing age. Thus, two studies examined these effects among primary, middle, and high school students (N = 972, 10-, 13-, and 16-year-olds). In Study 1, students’ transgression tolerance was negatively influenced by moral evaluations, and no age trend emerged. However, students reported more transgression tolerance with age owing to their increasing understanding of descriptive norms. In Study 2, the descriptive norms were manipulated: individuals in the high descriptive norm condition showed greater transgression tolerance than those in the low descriptive norm condition. An increasing tolerance of transgressions was observed only for those in the high descriptive norm condition. The effect of descriptive norms was found to contribute to the transgression tolerance trend.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Professor Yu Kou, School of Psychology, No. 19 Xinjiekouwai Street, Haidian District, Beijing, 100875, People's Republic of China. E-mail:


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The Impacts of Moral Evaluations and Descriptive Norms on Children's and Adolescents’ Tolerance of Transgression

  • Jin Wang (a1), Xinyuan Fu (a1), Lange Zhang (a1) and Yu Kou (a1)


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