Date of this Version
Poster presented at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, CEHS Student Research Conference, November 9, 2013.
This research uses Moral Domain Theory to examine preschool children’s reasoning about conservation. Three criteria differentiate between moral, personal, and conventional issues: universal application to all people in morally similar situations; not contingent upon societal rules; justification tied to rights and welfare.
Kahn (2001) reported that young children use predominately “harm to nature” justifications when asked about potentially harmful actions such as throwing trash in a waterway. Based on his investigation on environmental moral reasoning of participants ages 6 years to young adulthood across multiple cultures, Kahn proposed a developmental model that progresses from justifications (for prohibiting an action) focusing on harm to nature, to anthropocentric and biocentric reasoning, which is later integrated into a biocentric coordination of human and nature oriented welfare.
The purpose of this study is to extend Kahn’s research to a younger age group than has been previously investigated, and to compare environmental moral reasoning of children who are attending a nature-focused preschool to that of children attending a non-nature focused preschool.
•Do preschool-aged children demonstrate understanding of harm to nature in the case of throwing trash in a lake? Is the level of understanding similar or different from that reported for 6-year-old children in Kahn’s (2001) study?
•If preschool-aged children judge throwing trash in a lake as wrong, how do they justify their judgment? Do justifications differ by preschool type?
•Do preschool-aged children consider harm to nature as a moral issue that transcends location and social convention?
•Do preschool-aged children consider pets, wild animals, plants, and parks/gardens to be important, and why?