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).
ASJC Scopus subject areas