“That's not fair.” The influence of culture related socialization on children's positive justice development in urban Gujarat (India)

Gauri Kirtane Vanikar, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation explored the influence of culture-related socialization on children's development of positive justice. While cognitive developmental research supports the claim of a universal developmental sequence of moral reasoning, recent cultural research has shown marked differences in moral reasoning between Eastern and Western cultures. This mixed methods study, carried out in a private school in Gujarat, India was based upon Damon's (1977) research on positive justice development. The sample consisted of 74 children aged four to ten, comprising 34 girls and 40 boys. The study closely followed Damon's research methods but adapted his distribution tasks to the cultural context of the study through the use of Indian names and culturally relevant situations. Children's responses were transcribed and scored using Gerson and Damon's (1975) scoring manual. The results of this study indicate that children in this sample followed an age-related progression of positive justice development similar to Damon's on the hypothetical distribution task. However, they used significantly different levels of reasoning on real distribution tasks. This made it difficult to assign a general positive justice reasoning level to a participant. The younger children in the study did not use highly egocentric reasoning as expected based on Damon's findings. There were also several responses that could not be scored using the scoring manual, making it difficult to interpret a reasoning level for those responses using Damon's parameters. Furthermore, while Damon (1977) found no influence of sex-related socialization on positive justice reasoning, the findings of this study suggest that overall girls seemed more prone to egalitarian distribution and more willing to give up their claim in order to avoid conflict. Compared to their performance on the hypothetical distribution task, the participants showed a more marked regression in reasoning on the real distribution task than Damon's sample. The results of this study show that culture related socialization does, to an extent, influence children's positive justice development. These findings bring up the possibility of a western bias in Damon's model which may value certain forms of justice reasoning over others and re-emphasize the role of culture related socialization on children's positive justice development.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|South Asian Studies

Recommended Citation

Vanikar, Gauri Kirtane, "“That's not fair.” The influence of culture related socialization on children's positive justice development in urban Gujarat (India)" (2006). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3241809.