Sticker, R. M., Christner, N., Pletti, C., & Paulus, M. (2021). The moral self-concept in preschool children: its dimensions and relation to prosocial behaviors. Cognitive Development, 58. doi:10.1016/j.cogdev.2021.101033

Published: 22 March 2021| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/fhvwbz7mws.1
Regina M. Sticker,


Recent theories have highlighted the relevance of the moral self-concept (MSC) for prosocial behavior. Its early development and internal structure is still unknown, though. With two studies, we aimed to investigate the structure of the MSC in early childhood. Furthermore, we explored prosocial behavioral correlates (helping, sharing, comforting). In a first study, we explored four to six-year-olds (N = 127). We assessed explicit (puppet-interview) and implicit (IAT) measures of the MSC and observed child behavior. Our results show that MSC was independent from other self-concept domains. The three prosocial dimensions (helping, sharing and comforting) appear to be represented within the MSC separately. While the IAT yielded no significant relations with behaviors, the explicit MSC was meaningfully related to prosocial behavior. The second study (N = 314) underscores the results of the first, by replicating the factor structure of the MSC in confirmatory factor analysis. In conclusion, the studies underscore the MSC’s different dimensions and their relations to prosocial behaviors in preschool children.



Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen


Developmental Psychology