Bilingual children judge moral, social, and language violations as less transgressive than monolingual children

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Description: Learning the rules and expectations that govern our social interactions is one of the major challenges of development. The current study examined whether bilingualism is associated with differences in children’s developing social knowledge. We presented 54 four- to six-year-old monolingual and bilingual children with vignettes of moral (e.g., hitting), social (e.g., wearing pants on one's head), and language (e.g., calling a common object by a nonsense word) transgressions, and asked about their permissibility. In line with previous research findings, results demonstrate that all children evaluated moral violations more harshly than conventional violations. Notably, however, bilingual children were more permissive of violations across moral, social, and language domains than monolingual children. These findings yield new insights into the role of early experience on the development of social knowledge. We propose that bilinguals’ unique linguistic and social experiences influence their understanding of moral and conventional rules.

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