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This profile was last updated on 12/15/12  and contains information from public web pages and contributions from the ZoomInfo community.

Employment History

  • Psychologist
  • Chancellor
  • Professor of Education and Social Science Researcher
  • Professor of Education
    Institute of Human Development
  • President
    Jean Piaget Society
  • Chancellor
    Graduate School of Education at the University of California
  • Professor
    Graduate School of Education at the University of California
  • Dean
    Graduate School of Education at the University of California
  • Editor Or Coeditor

Board Memberships and Affiliations

  • Board Member
    Institute of Human Development
  • Member
    Institute of Human Development


  • Ph.D.
37 Total References
Web References
Call for Program Proposals | Society for Research in Child Development SRCD | for developmental scientists & professionals, 15 Dec 2012 [cached]
(Organizers: Elliot Turiel, Cecelia Wainryb, Na'ilah Nasir)
Elliot Turiel (University of California - Berkeley)
Simply put, from childhood on, many ..., 12 Nov 2009 [cached]
Simply put, from childhood on, many people critically appraise their cultural values, says psychologist Elliot Turiel of UC Berkeley.
Not every individual in a culture shares the same assumptions about what counts as good and bad values, how to act around parents and other key issues, as has traditionally been assumed by anthropologists and psychologists, in Turiel's view. Instead, he argues, members of a culture try to balance sometimes-clashing beliefs about individual rights and social obligations.
Such tensions feed off each culture's tendency to give some groups power over others. Individuals who have limited clout -children relative to parents, wives relative to husbands in many societies, citizens relative to authoritarian rulers - often follow certain cultural practices simply to avoid the dire consequences of dissent, Turiel asserts. Opposition gets expressed in hidden, underground ways.
"Individuals often take the initiative to go against, or attempt to change, existing social conditions on the basis of what they see as morally right and wrong," Turiel says.
In an influential 1994 study, Turiel and a colleague interviewed husbands and wives in a Druze Arab community in Israel.
Honesty may be the best policy in general, but as these women illustrate, people willfully lie to prevent what they perceive as greater harms or to resist injustice, Turiel asserts. In these situations, moral concerns validate dishonesty.
Studies directed by Turiel indicate that U.S. teenagers and married couples label honesty as "good" in principle but see certain types of deception as justified. Most teens said it was OK to lie to get around parents' demands seen as morally unacceptable, such as staying away from peers of another race, or as invasions of a personal domain, such as directives not to date a certain person.
Husbands and wives generally judged it acceptable for either sex to lie in order to further personal welfare, such as a wife lying to her husband about attending an alcoholism support group because he thinks the sessions are useless. Lies about keeping a secret bank account and seeing friends on the sly were rated as more acceptable for wives than husbands, especially by women who worked outside the home. Those women may view such fabrications as necessary to preserve an equal status with their husbands, Turiel speculates.
Successful marriages from Beijing to Boise may thus maintain a delicate balance between morally inspired truth-telling and lying. As in parent-child relationships, spouses' moral decisions about honesty, rights and harm could well vary more from one situation to another than from one culture to another, Turiel concludes.
Today, a school of thought developed by University of California, Berkeley psychologist Elliot Turiel asserts that moral decisions based on fairness and welfare develop alongside those based on other concerns, such as social rules.
Turiel, E., and S. Perkins. 2004. Flexibilities of mind: Conflict and culture. Human Development 47(May-June):158-178. doi:10.1159/000077988
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation T Fellows Page, 15 Feb 2007 [cached]
Elliot Turiel, Chancellor's Professor of Education, University of California, Berkeley: 1972.
2nd Draft, 1 June 1994 [cached]
A different set of criticisms is offered by Elliot Turiel, a professor of education and social science researcher at the University of California, Berkeley.Turiel takes particular umbrage at Wilson's idea that "ordinary" people are less thoughtful and more spontaneous than intellectuals and that this greater emotionality is a mark of the moral superiority of the ordinary person and of "common sense."In Turiel's world view we are all ordinary and we all ordinarily engage in moral reasoning.
As noted, Wilson feels that the liberal ideas of intellectuals have lead to liberal styles of parenting he believes are at the heart of the social ills of the day.
Many people have persuaded themselves that children ... should be encouraged to discuss the merits of moral alternatives.This is called "values clarification," but I think it a recipe for confusion rather than clarity.[9]
He warns us that we "should not be surprised if young people who have heard these ideas grow up taking drugs, cheating on tests and shooting their enemies."[10]
Turiel, however, is an educator and researcher who has spent a great deal of time studying children's moral development.He reports that
Where Wilson claims without evidence that the universal application of moral rules is a particular outgrowth of Western culture, Turiel demonstrates that diverse people hold universal moral standards and that even in traditionally highly sexist cultures the sentiments of women are similar to those of Western women.They consider their treatment to be unjust.
Ryan and Turiel do a good job of criticizing Wilson from an intellectual standpoint.
Turiel finds some of the holes in both Wilson's social theory and in his data.
[11] Elliot Turiel, Making sense of social experiences and moral judgements.,
Edited by Cecilia Wainryb, Judith G. ..., 1 Oct 2007 [cached]
Edited by Cecilia Wainryb, Judith G. Smetana and Elliot Turiel.
Elliot Turiel is Distinguished Professor of Education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley as well as an Affiliate in the Department of Psychology and a member of the Institute of Human Development. His research focuses on social cognitive development and relations of social development and culture.
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