A survey of cultural, moral, and character trait values, expressed by selected five-, six-, and seven-year-old children



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Purpose The purpose of this study was to survey cultural, moral, and character trait values expressed by five-, six-, and seven-year-old children. The investigation attempted to answer the following questions: 1. Are there commonalities in values held by children of these ages? 2. What values do these children express? 3. What verbal rationales do the subject provide for their value choices; do these rationales change as a function of age and sex? Procedures and Sources of Data One hundred and twenty subjects equally distributed by age and sex comprised the sample from kindergarten, first, and second grades of the Victoria (Texas) Independent School District. Subjects were interviewed using the Informal Inventory of Values (IIV) constructed to obtain expressions of values representative of white (Caucasian), middle-class children. Value choices of the subjects were treated with a principal component factor analysis with varimax rotation to identify commonalities of value choices. Rationales used by the subjects support value choices were categorized, then tabulated and ranked by percentage of use. Relationships between age and sex and rationales were treated with the t ratio technique. Frequency of subject usage of rationale categories was tabulated, means and standard deviations computed. Results The subjects agreed, at the .01 level, in 94 percent of their value choices. Commonality of values was described by five labeled factors: Social Consciousness: Moral, Empathic, Expediency, Human Relationships, and Rationality. The subject's categorized rationales follow in order of frequency of use: Rationality, Social Reinforcement, Punishment Oriented, Hedonistic, Empathic, Religious Connotations, Appeal to Authority, Retribution, Civic Responsibility, Legalistic, and Conscience. Sex was not statistically related to value choice. Age was significant in relation to one factor: Social Consciousness: Rationality; and two rationale categories. Punishment Oriented and Rationality. Conclusions The following conclusions were drawn as a result of this study: 1. The sample of young white, middle-class children agreed significantly in values they expressed. 2. Consensus of value choices appeared to have been inculcated in the child by the age of five. 3. Children of these ages were capable of using reasonable explanation to justify value choice. 4. No sex differences were found regarding values these children suppressed. 5. Age appeared to be significantly related to the child's ability to use rationality as basis for value choice. 6. The rationale of punishment was used most frequently by the five-year-old. This could be attributed to his having had less opportunity to experience social controls of behavior outside the family unit. 7. The children possessed a social consciousness that made them interested in all types of human relationships. 8. The children were able to express empathy. 9. The children understood certain moral concepts and recognized that certain acts contained social and legal sanctions. 10. The children revealed awareness of the expediency of certain behavior, e.g., the merit of saving money to obtain a future goal. Recommendations It was recommended that investigations be conducted: 1. With other age samples to discover the relationship between value choice and age. 2. With samples from differing geographic locations to determine if subjects would exhibit differences of value choice and rationale. 3. Using different levels of socioeconomic status to discover differences which may exist in value attitudes. 4. With other ethnic groups to determine the effects of such membership upon values. 5. To explore the effects of variables such as intelligence, size of family, and sibling position upon value choice. 6. To construct additional items for the IIV, and employ larger samples in subsequent factor analyses of childrens' values. 7. To evaluate the results of this study as basis for curriculum design appropriate for early childhood education programs.