Children’s Awareness of Authority to Change Rules in Various Social Contexts

Abstract

To investigate children’s awareness of authority to change rules, we showed children (ages 4-7) videos of one child playing a game alone or three children playing a game together. In the group video, the game rule was initiated either: by one of the children, by three children collaboratively or by an adult. They then were asked whether the characters in the videos could change the rules. Children believed that the character could change the rule when playing alone. Their responses to the group video depended on how the rule was initiated. They attributed authority to change rules only to the child who initiated the rule, unless the rule was created collaboratively. We also asked children whether they could change norms (school/moral/artifact norms) in daily life; and found moral/artifact distinction in children’s endorsement of norm changing. These results suggest that children recognize flexibility in changing rules even in preschool years.


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