Groups as moral boundaries: A developmental perspective

Lisa Chalik, Marjorie Rhodes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter we present the perspective that social groups serve as moral boundaries. Social groups establish the bounds within which people hold moral obligations toward one another. The belief that people are morally obligated toward fellow social group members, but not toward members of other groups, is an early-emerging feature of human cognition, arising out of domain-general processes in conceptual development. We review evidence that supports this account from the adult and child moral cognition literature, and we describe the developmental processes by which people come to view social groups as shaping moral obligation. We conclude with suggestions about how this account can inform the study of social cognitive development more broadly, as well as how it can be used to promote positive moral socialization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Child Development and Behavior
EditorsJanette B. Benson
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages31
ISBN (Print)9780128203712
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameAdvances in child development and behavior
ISSN (Print)0065-2407


  • Conceptual development
  • Developmental processes
  • Domain-general processes
  • Intergroup cognition
  • Moral cognition
  • Moral philosophy
  • Social categorization
  • Social cognitive development
  • Social relationships
  • Socialization
  • Humans
  • Child, Preschool
  • Infant
  • Morals
  • Group Processes
  • Social Perception
  • Child Development
  • Child
  • Concept Formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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