Moral reasoning and the child with psychopathic tendencies

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Abstract

This study investigates the ability of two groups of children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, divided according to their Psychopathy Screening Device scores (Frick & Hare, The psychopathy screening device. Toronto: Multi-Health Systems, in press), on the moral/conventional distinction and emotion attribution tasks. The 16 high Psychopathy Screening Device scoring children were found to make a significantly weaker moral/conventional distinction than the low Psychopathy Screening Device scoring controls. Moreover, while neither group could be distinguished in their emotion attributions to happiness, embarrassment and fear stories, the high Psychopathy Screening Device scoring children were found to be significantly less likely to attribute moral emotions to story protagonists than the low Psychopathy Screening Device scoring controls. The results are interpreted within the Violence Inhibition Mechanism model of the development of normal and atypical morality (Blair, Cognition, 57, 1-29, 1995).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)731-739
Number of pages9
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Volume22
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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