Lying, negligence, or lack of knowledge? Children's intention-based moral reasoning about resource claims.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

In a hidden inequality context, resource allocators and resource recipients are unaware that an unknowingly advantaged recipient possesses resources. The present study presented children aged 3-13 years (N = 121) with a hidden inequality vignette involving an accidental transgression in which one resource claimant, who unknowingly possessed more resources than another claimant, made an "unintentional false claim" to resources. This unintentional false claim resulted in depriving another recipient of needed resources. Results revealed that children's ability to accurately identify the claimant's intentions was related to how they evaluated and reasoned about resource claims, a previously understudied aspect of resource allocation contexts. Children's attributions of intentions to the accidental transgressor mediated the relationship between age and evaluations of the accidental transgression and the relationship between age and assignment of punishment to the accidental transgressor. With age, children who negatively evaluated the unintentional false claim shifted from reasoning about lying to a focus on negligence on the part of the unintentional false claimant. This shift reflects an increasing understanding of the accidental transgressor's benign intentions. These findings highlight how mental state knowledge and moral reasoning inform children's comprehension of resource allocation contexts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rizzo, MT; Li, L; Burkholder, AR; Killen, M

Published Date

  • February 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 55 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 274 - 285

PubMed ID

  • 30474997

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7543654

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-0599

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0012-1649

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/dev0000635


  • eng