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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

Percentages of participants with typical development that failed the theory of mind task (TD ToM-) and percentages of participants with autism spectrum disorder that failed the theory of mind task (ASD ToM-) which expressed a MJ according to the intention (intent), the transgression of the moral rule (moral rules) and the consequences (conseq) of the protagonists.
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Figure 2: Percentages of participants with typical development that failed the theory of mind task (TD ToM-) and percentages of participants with autism spectrum disorder that failed the theory of mind task (ASD ToM-) which expressed a MJ according to the intention (intent), the transgression of the moral rule (moral rules) and the consequences (conseq) of the protagonists.

Mentions: Then, we considered the MJ in children with TD and ASD divided into two subgroups of participants, with and without ToM abilities. In the subgroup of participants that failed the False-Belief Task (Figure 2), the results indicated that, even though the differences between groups are not statistically significant (χ2 = 4.627; df = 2; p = 0.099), there is a tendency in TD children to consider the intentions of the participants (18%). On the opposite, children with ASD tend to consider mainly the consequences (28%) or the transgression of the moral rules (25%).


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)

Percentages of participants with typical development that failed the theory of mind task (TD ToM-) and percentages of participants with autism spectrum disorder that failed the theory of mind task (ASD ToM-) which expressed a MJ according to the intention (intent), the transgression of the moral rule (moral rules) and the consequences (conseq) of the protagonists.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Figure 2: Percentages of participants with typical development that failed the theory of mind task (TD ToM-) and percentages of participants with autism spectrum disorder that failed the theory of mind task (ASD ToM-) which expressed a MJ according to the intention (intent), the transgression of the moral rule (moral rules) and the consequences (conseq) of the protagonists.
Mentions: Then, we considered the MJ in children with TD and ASD divided into two subgroups of participants, with and without ToM abilities. In the subgroup of participants that failed the False-Belief Task (Figure 2), the results indicated that, even though the differences between groups are not statistically significant (χ2 = 4.627; df = 2; p = 0.099), there is a tendency in TD children to consider the intentions of the participants (18%). On the opposite, children with ASD tend to consider mainly the consequences (28%) or the transgression of the moral rules (25%).

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