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Exploring the Role of Theory of Mind in Moral Judgment: The Case of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Fadda R, Parisi M, Ferretti L, Saba G, Foscoliano M, Salvago A, Doneddu G - Front Psychol (2016)

Bottom Line: In the moral task, children were told two versions of a story: in one version the protagonist acted according to a moral intention but the action resulted in a harmful consequence; in the other version the protagonist acted according to an immoral intention, but the action resulted in a harmless consequence.Children were asked which of the two protagonists was the "naughtier." In line with previous studies, the results indicated that, while the majority of TD participants succeeded in the second order False Belief task, only few individuals with ASD showed intact perspective taking abilities.These results indicate a heteronomous morality in individuals with ASD, based on the respect of learned moral rules and outcomes rather than others' subjective states.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Pedagogy, Psychology, Philosophy, University of Cagliari Cagliari, Italy.

ABSTRACT
This paper adds to the growing research on moral judgment (MJ) by considering whether theory of mind (ToM) might foster children's autonomous MJ achievement. A group of 30 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was compared in MJ and ToM with 30 typically developing (TD) children. Participants were tested for MJ with a classical Piaget's task and for ToM with a second order False Belief task. In the moral task, children were told two versions of a story: in one version the protagonist acted according to a moral intention but the action resulted in a harmful consequence; in the other version the protagonist acted according to an immoral intention, but the action resulted in a harmless consequence. Children were asked which of the two protagonists was the "naughtier." In line with previous studies, the results indicated that, while the majority of TD participants succeeded in the second order False Belief task, only few individuals with ASD showed intact perspective taking abilities. The analysis of the MJ in relation to ToM showed that children with ASD lacking ToM abilities judged guilty the protagonists of the two versions of the story in the moral task because both of them violated a moral rule or because they considered the consequences of the actions, ignoring any psychological information. These results indicate a heteronomous morality in individuals with ASD, based on the respect of learned moral rules and outcomes rather than others' subjective states.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Percentage of participants with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and with typical development (TD) who expressed a judgment of consequence (conseq), transgression of a moral rule (moral rules) and intention (intent) in the Piaget’s moral judgment (MJ) task.
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Figure 1: Percentage of participants with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and with typical development (TD) who expressed a judgment of consequence (conseq), transgression of a moral rule (moral rules) and intention (intent) in the Piaget’s moral judgment (MJ) task.

Mentions: As shown in Figure 1, children with ASD judged the culpability on an action mainly in terms of consequences (23%) and transgression of a moral rule (17%). Only a few of the children with ASD referred to the intentions (10%). On the opposite, TD children mainly referred to the intentions (30%) and only a few of them considered the consequences (10%) and the transgression of a moral rule in their judgment (10%). The differences between group were statistically significant (χ2 = 10.200; df = 2; p= 0.006).


Exploring the Role of Theory of Mind in Moral Judgment: The Case of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Fadda R, Parisi M, Ferretti L, Saba G, Foscoliano M, Salvago A, Doneddu G - Front Psychol (2016)

Percentage of participants with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and with typical development (TD) who expressed a judgment of consequence (conseq), transgression of a moral rule (moral rules) and intention (intent) in the Piaget’s moral judgment (MJ) task.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4834434&req=5

Figure 1: Percentage of participants with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and with typical development (TD) who expressed a judgment of consequence (conseq), transgression of a moral rule (moral rules) and intention (intent) in the Piaget’s moral judgment (MJ) task.
Mentions: As shown in Figure 1, children with ASD judged the culpability on an action mainly in terms of consequences (23%) and transgression of a moral rule (17%). Only a few of the children with ASD referred to the intentions (10%). On the opposite, TD children mainly referred to the intentions (30%) and only a few of them considered the consequences (10%) and the transgression of a moral rule in their judgment (10%). The differences between group were statistically significant (χ2 = 10.200; df = 2; p= 0.006).

Bottom Line: In the moral task, children were told two versions of a story: in one version the protagonist acted according to a moral intention but the action resulted in a harmful consequence; in the other version the protagonist acted according to an immoral intention, but the action resulted in a harmless consequence.Children were asked which of the two protagonists was the "naughtier." In line with previous studies, the results indicated that, while the majority of TD participants succeeded in the second order False Belief task, only few individuals with ASD showed intact perspective taking abilities.These results indicate a heteronomous morality in individuals with ASD, based on the respect of learned moral rules and outcomes rather than others' subjective states.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Pedagogy, Psychology, Philosophy, University of Cagliari Cagliari, Italy.

ABSTRACT
This paper adds to the growing research on moral judgment (MJ) by considering whether theory of mind (ToM) might foster children's autonomous MJ achievement. A group of 30 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was compared in MJ and ToM with 30 typically developing (TD) children. Participants were tested for MJ with a classical Piaget's task and for ToM with a second order False Belief task. In the moral task, children were told two versions of a story: in one version the protagonist acted according to a moral intention but the action resulted in a harmful consequence; in the other version the protagonist acted according to an immoral intention, but the action resulted in a harmless consequence. Children were asked which of the two protagonists was the "naughtier." In line with previous studies, the results indicated that, while the majority of TD participants succeeded in the second order False Belief task, only few individuals with ASD showed intact perspective taking abilities. The analysis of the MJ in relation to ToM showed that children with ASD lacking ToM abilities judged guilty the protagonists of the two versions of the story in the moral task because both of them violated a moral rule or because they considered the consequences of the actions, ignoring any psychological information. These results indicate a heteronomous morality in individuals with ASD, based on the respect of learned moral rules and outcomes rather than others' subjective states.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus