Various studies have indicated that children’s preferences are biased towards those who have more resources or who are considered more fortunate than others. Little is known, however, about whether this preference translates to a moral assessment of the character of those with more or less resources. Our study included 46 children aged four to five. We asked participants to indicate their preference for the richer and the poorer in desirable resources. We also asked them to attribute the moral character of the moral agent or moral recipient. The children revealed a strong bias towards the advantaged character. Not only did they prefer him as a future friend, they also attributed morally positive social roles to him.
This article proposes a model describing the nature of associative processes as diagnostic cues for formulating attitudes and judgments. The assumption of the model is that attitudes, judgments and behaviours are based on how people selectively activate, interpret and integrate previously associated signals (selectively limiting the excess of information from both the senses and from our immediate environment). The model specifies which factors hinder or facilitate the formulation of associations between diagnostic signals and how it translates into attitudes, judgments and behaviours. To test the predictions derived from this model, we first showed that linguistic cues of diminutives can indicate physical properties – they were associated with the belief that the described objects were smaller but also worse or less valuable. The second line of research dealt with embodied moral judgments – we demonstrated that the usage of a hand over heart gesture led to more honest behaviour, an increase in judgments of honesty but also reduced tendency to lie for one's own profit. Our findings also suggest that using “standing at attention” body manipulation increased participants' submissiveness to the experimenter and their obedience to norms. This pattern of results suggests that the described model integrates perspectives of embodied cognition and social cognition, documenting the cognitive mechanism needed to formulate and adjust attitudes and judgments.