Preschoolers' Development of Intent-Based Moral Judgement and the Role of Theory of Mind

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Andrews, Katherine Elizabeth




The current study examined 4- and 5-year-old children’s ability to use intention information in their moral judgments of story characters with identical, neutral intentions that produced different outcomes (one neutral and one negative). Children were presented with two story types: stories in which two characters are included, and stories in which only one character is presented. It was hypothesized that children would show more mature moral reasoning when they were given the chance to directly compare the characters, especially their matched intentions, when they are presented within a single story, compared to across stories. However, results revealed that children’s moral ratings were less mature when presented with dual-character stories compared to single-character stories. On the other hand, children’s assignment of punishment and identification of the characters’ intentions did not differ depending on the story type. Performance on the task was also examined in relation to false belief understanding.


Psychology - Developmental
Psychology - Cognitive




Carleton University

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