Gozzo, D. G. (2021). Utilitarian Decisions In Monolingual And Bilingual Children. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.2397
Do bilingual children make moral decisions differently than monolingual children? The relationship between bilingualism and moral decision-making is complex and often unexpected. Studies of late and early bilingual adults have found that factors such as age of acquisition, context of language usage, and language dominance can influence how utilitarian decisions are made (Costa et al., 2014; Miozzo et al., 2020; Wong & Ng, 2018). In a previous study, bilingual children were more likely to make utilitarian decisions in response to child-friendly adaptations of the trolley and footbridge dilemmas than monolingual children (Michelin et al., 2010b). The present study aimed to replicate and extend Michelin et al.'s study by presenting 4-6 year old bilingual and monolingual children with versions of the trolley and footbridge dilemmas as well as another scenario meant to represent a moral dilemma from everyday life. In contrast to Michelin et al.'s finding that bilingual children made more utilitarian decisions than monolingual children, we found that monolingual children were more likely to make utilitarian decisions in the footbridge dilemma than bilingual children. Both monolingual and bilingual children were more likely to choose utilitarian actions in the footbridge and trolley dilemmas than in the everyday moral dilemma. A measure of language dominance was collected for bilingual children, but effects of non-dominance could not be fully explored given the limited sample size. Considerations of the influence of language status and other factors on utilitarian decisions are discussed, as well as directions for future research.