Presentation on theme: "MORAL JUDGMENT AND METARAPRESENTATIONAL SKILLS IN PRESCHOOL AND IN SCHOOL CHILDREN M. Parisi, R. Fadda Department of Psychology University of Cagliari."— Presentation transcript:
MORAL JUDGMENT AND METARAPRESENTATIONAL SKILLS IN PRESCHOOL AND IN SCHOOL CHILDREN M. Parisi, R. Fadda Department of Psychology University of Cagliari
Introduction A central topic within the theories-of-mind literature is when and how young children come to interpret actions in terms of underlying psychological motivations. This focus on psychological states is similarly fundamental in the domain of moral judgment studies that investigate the children’s ability to consider mental states in evaluating the moral quality of others’ actions (Keasey C.B., 1978; Malle, 1999).
For the most part, research in these two domains has proceeded separately. In the past few years, however, a series of studies have explored the connections between the two (Baird, Astington,2004; Knobe, 2003). The most obvious connection arises in cases where people’s beliefs about an agent’s mind serve as input to the process by which they arrive at moral judgments about that agent’s behavior (Keasey, 1978; Malle, 1999).
The process appears to be working in reverse —people’s moral judgments seem to be serving as input to the process by which they arrive at theory- of-mind judgments (Knobe, 2003). Adult and children first arrive at a judgment as to whether the behavior itself is morally good or morally bad and then use this moral judgment as input to the process by which they arrive at judgments about the mind (Knobe, 2003; Leslie, Knobe, Cohen, 2006).
Between 3 and 5 yrs children develop the ability to ascribe false beliefs to both themselves and others. This ability is symptomatic of a more general ability to engage in a conterfactual reasoning – a conditional thinking with antecedent that are known to be false (Riggs, Peterson, Robinson, Mitchell, 1998). By looking at the conterfactual thinking in preschool and in school children it might be possible to better understand the psychological processes involved in the ability of children to ascribe moral judgments.
METHOD Participants Group 1: 36 preschool children (18 male; 18 females), age ranged between 4 yrs and 6;1 yrs (mean age = 5;3). Group 2: 33 school children (11 male; 22 females), age ranged between 8 yrs and 9;5 yrs (mean age = 8;5). Materials First order False Belief (The unexpected transfer task): two dolls, two boxes, a toy. Second order False Belief (The Ice-cream Van): pictures. OBJECTIVE: This research aims to investigate the relationship between moral judgment and meta- representational abilities in preschool (first order false belief) and in school children (second order false belief).
Procedure –First order False Belief task (Wimmer and Perner, 1983). “Maxi and Mummy are in the kitchen. They put some chocolate in the fridge. Then Maxi goes away to play with his friend. Mummy decides to bake a cake. She takes the chocolate from the fridge, makes the cake, and puts the rest of the chocolate in the cupboard. Maxi is returning now from visiting his friend.” Children are then asked the test question: “Where does Maxi think the chocolate is?”
– Second order False Belief task (The Ice-cream van, Wimmer & Perner, 1985). John and Mary go to the park. Mary wants an ice-cream. John forgot the money at home so he went to take it. When John is gone, the Ice-cream van moves to the church. FALS BELIEF QUESTION: What Mary thinks that John thinks...
CODING CORRECT: the child considers the false belief in order to predict the behavior of the protagonist. INTERMEDIATE: the child predicts the behavior of the protagonist without an explicit explanation in terms of false beliefs. UNCORRECT: the child predicts the behavior of the protagonist as it was due to reality.
MORAL JUDGMENT DAMAGING SOMETHING: a) Margherita wants to play with the scissors when her mum is gone. As soon as she plays with the scissors she cut a little hole in her dress. b) Lucia wants to please her mother with a little present. She decides to cut some flowers from a colored paper sheet and give them to her mum. While she’s doing her job, she cut a big hole in her dress.
STEALING SOMETHING: a) Alberto’s friend put a little bird inside an iron cage. Alberto is so sad for this because he thinks that the bird must feel so lonely and sad inside the cage. One day, Alberto decides to go and open the door of the cage so the bird could fly away. b) Lorenzo steals his mother’s candy to eat them.
LAYING TO SOMEONE: a) Federico is playing in his room when his mother comes and asks him to go and buy some bread from the supermarket. Federico doesn’t really want to go so he told to his mother that his feet hurt so bad that he cannot walk. But this wasn’t true. b) Carlo loves animals. One day he saw an horse at the park but nobody invited him to have a ride. When he came home he told to his mum a story about him riding a horse in the park. But this wasn’t true.
CODING Intention: the child refers to the intention of the protagonist (Ex:“Federico, because he wanted to cheat his mother”). Equality: the child considers both protagonist as equally “bad” (Ex: “Both of them ‘cause they both damaged someone else”). Consequence: the child refers to the consequence (Ex: “Lucia, ‘cause she cut the biggest hole in her dress”). Non-comprehension: the child doesn’t seems to understand the moral implications of the story.
Tab. 4: Moral Judgment (school children) ConsequenceEqualityIntentionTot Damging 9 (27%) 22 (67%) 2 (6%) 33 (100%) Stealing 3 (9%) 20(61%)10(30%)33(100%) Laying-29(87%)4(13%)33(100%) RESULTSUncorrectIntermediateCorrectTot II order FB 14 (42%) 5 (16%) 14 (42%) 33 (100%) Tab. 3: Second order False Belief
* First order false belief is independent from moral judgment about damaging something (Gamma = - 0.22; p>0.05) and steal something (Gamma = 0.015; p>0.05). There is an inversal relationship with the moral judgment about laying to someone (Gamma = -0.88; p<0.05).
Second order false belief and moral judgment are independent.
Moral judgment and meta-representational abilities (I – II order FB) seems to be independent. Children might consider some moral norms to be important to follow, no matter which intention underlies the action. How care takers and other adults may influence childrens’ thoughts and feelings about moral norms? The school might offer good opportunities for the children to use their mentalistic abilities when they consider the moral norms. CONCLUSIONS