Celia A. An Introduction to Child Development.
Thomas Keenan. Applied Child Study. Anthony D. Handbook of Personality, Third Edition. Oliver P. Metacognition, Strategy Use, and Instruction. Harriet Salatas Waters. Anxiety Moshe Zeidner. Social and Personality Development. Michael E. Imagery and the Threatened Self. Lusia Stopa. Paulina F. Parenting Behaviour and Children's Cognitive Development. Sara Meadows. Cognitive Development. Marc H. Theory of Mind.
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Handbook of Reading Interventions. As heteronomous moral reasoning seems to emerge at the end of the preschool years Turiel, , it is possible that 5-year-old participants have superior moral reasoning than their 4-year-old peers and, therefore, present a more developed ability to identify transgressions to rules. Nonetheless, it is important to investigate why the 4-year-old children in the present study have a specific difficulty in correctly judging actions with wrong or bad motives.
A possible explanation is related to the fact that the behaviors with wrong motives used in this moral judgment task were invariably moral transgressions or transgressions of conduct norms like kicking a ball on the wall to make it dirty, running to escape from the teacher, asking permission to drink water in order to get out of the classroom , whereas the behaviors with correct motives were only routine actions, without any clear association to moral values like kicking a ball when playing with friends, running in a hide-and-seek game or asking permission to drink water due to being thirsty.
Four-year-old children's difficulty in the task could be, therefore, directly related to a limitation in reasoning about moral transgressions.
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An interesting future direction for research on moral judgment based on motive would be to use a modified version of the task that includes actions with good motives that are considered desirable or morally honorable e. With regards to the participants' performance in the moral judgment based on intention task, no differences were found between the two age groups.
One important finding, however, was the significant effect of intentionality on the participants' judgments. The analysis of the results revealed that the children found it easier to identify when a consequence occurred intentionally than when a consequence occurred accidentally, independent of the story outcome being positive or negative. This finding seems to be corroborated by Imamoglu's data with 5- to year old children. This study investigated the influence of different factors on moral judgments, including intentionality. The author demonstrated that the mean response time for the children's evaluations of accidental actions was significantly higher than the mean response time for the evaluation of intentional actions.
These results suggest that the children hesitated when deciding which judgment was the correct one for this type of action, or may reflect a difficulty children face in evaluating accidental actions. A plausible explanation for this finding is the fact that, our study, thoroughly based on Baird and Astington's work , was not a reliable replication of the aforementioned research. Although we tried to contact the authors, requesting the original instrument used for the assessment of moral development based on motive, we received no reply which, in turn, led to the need to elaborate items for the instrument, having only a few examples made available by the authors of the published work as a model.
This condition may have contributed to the lack of agreement between our findings and theirs. No associations between theory of mind scores and moral judgment based on intention were found. This can be explained by an important aspect raised by Killen et al. From the authors' point of view, therefore, assessing each ability separately one or more tests to assess theory of mind and one or more tests to assess moral development is a risky strategy, particularly when the intent is to test correlations.
In a recent study, Killen et al. Children who passed the MoTom task were more competent in judging whether a character should be punished or not based on his intentions rather than prioritizing the damage caused than when passing a traditional false belief task and should make the same decisions in a different moral development test.
Such result may indicate the existence of a stage during which both abilities start to relate efficiently and moral reasoning undergoes a qualitative leap, with theory of mind becoming an important component of its functioning. Consequently, it is possible that preschool children's own moral development stage, which stands out for its adherence to rules established by an authority figure more than by their own reasoning per se Turiel, , is too incipient for them to make use of mental state inference and this qualitative leap, found in other studies, may not have yet occurred in the small sample of children who participated in the present study.
The present study is innovative as it is the first to explore the relation between moral development and theory of mind in Brazilian children. Although our results do not suggest an association between participants' performance in theory of mind tasks and both types of moral judgment based on motive and based on intention , it is important to note that participants were more competent to judge intentional actions than accidental ones. This effect suggests that a more sophisticated moral judgment depends on cognitive advancements in the theory of mind domain i.pierreducalvet.ca/105384.php
Social and Personality Development in Childhood
Furthermore, the data presented here suggest an interesting developmental pattern with regards to the distinction between actions with right motives and actions with wrong motives. Future studies need to investigate why 5-year-old children are better at judging the behaviors motivated by bad reasons than 4-year-olds. We suggest that future studies should include a larger sample of participants, as well as a group of older children or even adults in order to obtain a better understanding of how social cognition and moral reasoning relate in the different stages of development.
Andrade, M. Interamerican Journal of Psychology, 42 1 , Astington, J. Sometimes necessary, never sufficient: False-belief understanding and social competence. Slaughter Eds. New York: Psychology Press.
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