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ERIC Number: EJ1006946
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Apr
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0277
The Development of Intent-Based Moral Judgment
Cushman, Fiery; Sheketoff, Rachel; Wharton, Sophie; Carey, Susan
Cognition, v127 n1 p6-21 Apr 2013
Between the ages of 4 and 8 children increasingly make moral judgments on the basis of an actor's intent, as opposed to the outcome that the actor brings about. Does this reflect a reorganization of concepts in the moral domain, or simply the development of capacities outside the moral domain such as theory of mind and executive function? Motivated by the past evidence that adults rely partially on outcome-based judgment for judgments of deserved punishment, but not for judgments of moral wrongness, we explore the same categories of judgment in young children. We find that intent-based judgments emerge first in children's assessments of naughtiness and that this subsequently constrains their judgments of deserved punishment. We also find that this developmental trajectory differs for judgments of accidental harm (a bad outcome with benign intent) and judgments of attempted harm (a benign outcome with bad intent). Our findings support a two process model derived from studies of adults: a mental-state based process of judging wrongness constrains an outcome-based process of assigning punishment. The emergence of this two-process architecture in childhood suggests that the developmental shift from outcome- to intent-based judgment involves a conceptual reorganization within the moral domain. (Contains 6 figures.)
Elsevier. 3251 Riverport Lane, Maryland Heights, MO 63043. Tel: 800-325-4177; Tel: 314-447-8000; Fax: 314-447-8033; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A