The development of social cognitive processes among juvenile delinquents and nondelinquent peers.
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Using 10-11- and 14-15-year-old delinquents and nondelinquents, the present project was intended to investigate: (a) the extent of delinquent-nondelinquent differences on moral reasoning tasks; (b) whether delinquents display less knowledge about social problem solving, or social metacognition, in comparison to nondelinquents; (c) whether the deficiency by delinquents on a social problem-solving task could be lessened with clues to be more strategic; and (d) whether age differences would be observed on these tasks and whether age would interact with delinquency. Developmental differences for age, but not for delinquency, were observed in mortal judgment and prosocial moral reasoning. Under certain conditions, older nondelinquents performed better than other groups while considering some dimensions of social problem solving. Age differences were also noted on the social problem-solving task. When subjects were provided with clues as an organizing strategy on this latter task, all groups scored at levels higher than their no-clues performances. All groups except younger delinquents displayed comparable knowledge about strategies to solve social problems. The findings are discussed in terms of Flavell's processing model of social cognition.
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