NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ827034
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 25
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
Foreknowledge, Caring, and the Side-Effect Effect in Young Children
Pellizzoni, Sandra; Siegal, Michael; Surian, Luca
Developmental Psychology, v45 n1 p289-295 Jan 2009
Children and adults often judge that the side effects of the actions of an uncaring story agent have been intentional if the effects are harmful but not if these are beneficial, creating an asymmetrical "side-effect" effect. The authors report 3 experiments involving 4- and 5-year-olds (N = 188) designed to clarify the role of foreknowledge and caring in judgments of intentionality. Many children showed the side-effect effect even if agents were explicitly described as lacking foreknowledge of the outcome. Similarly, when agents were described as possessing foreknowledge but their caring state was unspecified, children more often judged that the negative, compared with the positive, effects of agents' actions were brought about intentionally. Regardless of foreknowledge, children infrequently judged positive outcomes as intentional when agent caring was unspecified, and they gave few attributions of intentionality when agents were described as having a false belief about the outcome. These results testify to the robustness of the side-effect effect and highlight the extent to which children's intentionality judgments are asymmetrical. The findings suggest developmental continuity in the link between reasoning about morality and intentionality. (Contains 2 figures.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A