The article Children’s giving by Ongley, Nola, & Malti


Children’s giving: moral reasoning and moral emotions in the development of donation behaviors


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The article “Children’s giving: moral reasoning and moral emotions in the development of donation behaviors,” by Ongley, Nola, & Malti (2014) is analyzed and criticized in this paper. The article presents a study conducted to investigate moral reasoning and moral emotions and their respective roles in developing the donating behavior of young children.

Data Analysis

A sample of 160 children of the ages 4 years and 8 years was considered. This sample was large enough to minimize biases. Typically, the sample included 78 children aged 4 years and 82 children aged 8 years (Ongley, Nola, & Malti, 2014). Age was one of the sampling parameters in which gender was also an important consideration. For the 8 year-olds, girls were 43 representing 52% while for the 4-year-olds, girls were 38 representing 49% (Ongley, Nola, & Malti, 2014). This implies that the sample consisted of more girls than boys. The descriptive statistical results are as shown in table 1 below.

Table 1: Number of stickers that the children possessed at the start of task and proportion of the stickers donated

  Number of Stickers in Possession Donated    
  Min Max M (SD) min Max M(SD)
4-year olds 0 54 31.68(14.59) 0 1 0.27(0.32)
8-year-olds 12 48 28.49(7.00 0 1 0.53(0.28)

From table 1 the 4-year old children had a range of zero to 54 for stickers at the start of the donating task while the 8 year old children had a range of 12 and 48 stickers at the start of the donation task. To show the difference in the range of stickers, a column chart could be used to present the results clearly. Based on the column chart depicted in Figure 1, the 4 year olds had the highest sticker possession than the 8 year olds at the start of the donation task.

Figure 1: Sticker Possession at the start of the task

Similarly, at the end of the donation task, the 8 year old children had donated the highest number of stickers (Ongley, Nola, & Malti, 2014). The results are presented in the column chart in Figure 2. Based on this column chart, it seems that the 8 year olds were more prepared to donate as compared to the 4 year old children.

Figure 2: Sticker Donation at the end of task

From a general perspective, the 8 years old children had a larger number of sticker possession, an aspect that could have contributed to the reason behind their higher donation level. This was however the case when other control variables such as gender, child age, and the education level of a child’s caregiver (Ongley, Nola, & Malti, 2014). The general results without the control variables are shown in Figure 3 below.

Figure 3: Number of stickers that the children possessed at start of task and proportion of the stickers donated

The willingness to donate among the children was nevertheless under the influence of other aspects apart from age level. The two other meaningful factors that could affect their ability to donate included the education level of a child’s primary caregiver and the gender of the child. An analysis of these variables was very important in determining the behavior of such children when it comes to donation activities (Ongley, Nola, & Malti, 2014). Table 2 shows the donation behavior of the same children when the abovementioned control variables are incorporated. The control variable as mentioned is gender, age, a child’s reported sympathy, and caregiver’s sympathy. First, the variable of gender is considered.

Table 2: How various variable are influenced by child’s age and gender

  4 year Olds 8 year olds
  Girls Boys Girls Boys
Variable Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD
Donating 0.37 0.34 0.17 0.27 0.54 0.26 0.52 0.31
Child’s Reported Sympathy 0.59 0.52 0.63 0.51 1.52 0.42 1.21 0.48
Caregiver reported Sympathy 4.49 0.77 4.59 0.85 5.05 0.50 4.53 1.04
Guilt 0.61 0.44 0.62 0.38 0.64 0.37 0.56 0.40
Moral Reasoning 0.03 0.13 0.00 0.00 0.26 0.33 0.17 0.31

For easy interpretation, a column chart has to be constructed in order to enhance the visibility and clarification of each variable regarding both mean and standard deviation. Figure

Figure 4: Column chart showing how various variable are influenced by child’s age and gender

Figure 3 above shows the mean and standard deviation of the study variables with respect to the children’s age and gender. In this regard, average donating is higher in girls than boys for both 8 years-olds and 4 year-olds. In the two groups (4 year-olds and 8 year-olds), girls recorded the highest average sympathy (Ongley, Nola, & Malti, 2014). The caregiver reported sympathy is however lower among girls than boys for the 4 year-olds, and higher among girls than boys for the 8 year-olds. Regarding the moral reasoning variable, the 8 year-olds seem to score the highest (Ongley, Nola, & Malti, 2014). The implication here is that age seems to influence the moral reasoning of children in which case the children’s moral reasoning increase with age.

Article Critique

The study is presented quite well. The authors first provide an overview of the study in terms of the methods used to collect data, the sample size used, and the results obtained by presenting a clear abstract. All the variables considered for the research are clearly depicted in the abstract. The authors then introduce the topic being studied. They do this by providing background/literature about the giving attitude, moral reasoning, moral emotions, and children’s giving and how they have been known to influence the donating behavior of children (Ongley, Nola, & Malti, 2014).

The methodology part of the study explains the tool, techniques, and methods used in the study. The author, however, could have used sub-title, ‘methodology,’ instead of material and methods (Ongley, Nola, & Malti, 2014). What the authors’ meant by ‘material’ is hardly clear. Nevertheless, within the same section, the participants and their characteristics are very well presented. The procedure of selecting the study sample is also well explained (Ongley, Nola, & Malti, 2014). The variables used, which are referred to as measures, are also explained well. They include donating, sympathy including self-reported sympathy and care-giver reported sympathy, guilt feeling, and moral reasoning.

The results of the study are also well presented. Nevertheless, other data presentation methods such as charts and graphs could have been used. The reader could then get a clearer image of the study results (Ongley, Nola, & Malti, 2014). The only table has been used to present the study results although the authors have elaborated the tabulated results through explanation as well as in the discussion section. Future study should incorporate better techniques for presenting the data.


Ongley, S. F., Nola, M., & Malti, T. (2014). Children’s giving: moral reasoning and moral emotions in the development of donation behaviors. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(458), 1-8.



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