The Nature of Responsibility: Children's Understanding of “Your Job”

Pamela M. Warton*, Jacqueline J. Goodnow

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    43 Citations (Scopus)


    The present study starts from the argument that research on responsibility will benefit from defining it in terms of some specific principles. The 3 principles considered deal with the sharing or distribution of work. They are (a) direct‐cause responsibility (e.g., people should fix problems they have created), (b) self‐regulation (e.g., you should not expect to be reminded), and (c) continuing responsibility (e.g., a job remains “yours” even when someone else agrees to do it). These principles were embedded in vignettes and a sorting task, all related to household work, with children of 8, 11, or 14 years of age commenting on the fairness of various work arrangements. The results show differential developmental paths for the 3 principles rather than a unitary sense of responsibility. The redefinition emerges as providing both a way to generate new research on responsibility and a link to studies of distributive norms dealing with rewards or rights.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)156-165
    Number of pages10
    JournalChild Development
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1991


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