Lee et al


  • To see if Chinese and Canadian children would differ in how they rated truth-telling and lie-telling in pro-social settings, where someone had done something good. 

" Chinese children were predicted to rate truth-tellling in pro-social situations less positivley and lie-telling in the same situation less negativey than Canadian children "

  • To see if Chinese and Canadian childrn would differ in how they rated truth-telling and lie-telling in anti-social settings, where someone has done something bad. 

" Children of both cultures were expected to show similar moral evaliations of lie-telling and truth-telling related to anti-social behaviours "

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Independent Variables

  • Nationality of the child: Chinese or Canadian 
  • Age of the child: 7 yrs, 9 yrs, or 11 yrs 
  • How the character behaved in the story: Pro-social or anti-social
  • What was affected by the behaviour of the child in the story: Physical objects or Other people 
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All Chinese children were from Hangzhou.

There were 20 females and 20 males in each age catagory.

There were 40 children in total for each age catagory.

There were 120 Chinese children in total. 


All Canadian children came from New Brunswick. 

Aged 7 there were 20 males and 16 females.

Aged 9 there were 24 males and 16 females.

Aged 11 there were 14 males and 18 females.

There was a total of 180 Canadian children.

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  • Children were allocated on a random basis to either the social story condition or the physical story condition
  • They were seen individually 
  • First the rating chart was explained to them 
  • When the children had to answer the questions, they could use the words, symbols or sometime both
  • Each child listened to all four social story or all four physical stories 
  • The good and naughty meanings were alternated so that the researchers knew the child was just saying the first option each time. 
  • The reserachers also used counterbalencing by randomly allocating stories to one of two orders and then giving about half of the children on order and the rest of the children the second order. 
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Story One

The two cultures showed no significant difference in thier rating of pro-social behaviours (over positively). Canadian children gave silmilar ratings for truth-telling at all ages, but the Chinese children rated truth-telling less positively as they got older.

Story Two 

Canadian children rated lie-telling negativiely  at all ages but this became less negtive as they got older. Chinese children rated lie-telling negatively at age 7 but positively at age 11. 

Story Three

No significant difference between the two cultures. Both rated truth-telling as positive.

Story Four 

Both Chinese and Canadian children rated lie-telling nagatively. significant difference between age groups - the ratings of both cultures got more negative as they got older. 

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Lee et al concluded thay there are significant differences in moral development between different cultures, which is not due just to cognitive development. Lee found that culture okays a significant role in a childs moral development.

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Guidelines Upheld

  • Fully informed consent - Lee thanked parents and children for cooperation
  • Confidentiality - No confidential information was shared 
  • Withdrawal - There was some evidence of participants withdrawing 
  • Debriefed 
  • Deception - Children and parents were told what the study was about so they were not misled

Guidelines Broken 

  • Protection from harm - the stories were of children getting hurt 
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Internal Reliability

  • Yes, it was repeated 228 times across different cultures
  • yes, the stories were standardised and replicable 

External Reliability

  • Yes, Overall it had a large enough sample for the age groups and age gender
  • No, It was only done in two cultres
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Internal Validity

  • It could have social desirability answers, however only the parents knew the aim of the study
  • The study was meauring moral devlopment and this was made sure by the counterbalencing

External Validity

  • It was very true to life as the stories related closely to what happens in school 
  • However they were asked in a questionnaire format which isnt very realistic
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