How do young children misbehave in the grocery store and in the school? The preschoolers’ perspective

Marie S. Tisak, John Tisak, Sara E. Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This research assessed young children’s perceptions about what misconduct behaviors peers are likely to commit across two contexts, the school and the grocery store. In addition, participants heard one of two versions in which the protagonist was either a boy or a girl. The participants were 70 preschool children (40 males and 30 females) and ranged in age from 36 to 77 months (M = 57 months). The results showed that a total of 242 non-repetitive behaviors were generated. Most of the behaviors generated either concerned acts having negative consequences to others (i.e., moral transgressions) or violations of social norms (i.e., conventional transgressions). The results also showed that children generated more moral than conventional misbehaviors. Moral acts were expected to occur more often in the school context than in grocery context, whereas social conventional misbehaviors were expected to occur in both contexts. Children described three specific types of moral misbehaviors: Physical harm, property violations, and interpersonal violations. Furthermore, children’s expectations of peers’ misbehaviors were a function of the gender of the character committing the misdeed as well as the story context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-498
Number of pages12
JournalEarly Education and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2001


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