See the self through others' eyes: The development of moral emotions in young children with autism spectrum disorder

Boya Li*, Yung Ting Tsou, Lex Stockmann, Kirstin Greaves-Lord, Carolien Rieffe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Despite the important social functions of moral emotions, they are understudied in the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) population. This three-wave longitudinal study is among the first to examine the development of moral emotions and their associations with theory of mind in 3- to 7-year-old children with ASD, using observational tasks. One hundred and forty-two children (52 with ASD) were followed over a period of 2 years. We found that while the expressions of shame and guilt remained stable in non-ASD children, they decreased with age in children with ASD. No group differences were found in the levels or the developmental trajectories of pride. Besides, better false-belief understanding was uniquely related to the expressions of pride in children with ASD. Our findings highlight the importance of enhancing understanding of moral emotion development and related factors in children with ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2100097
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Early online date25 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 25 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • autism spectrum disorder
  • early childhood
  • longitudinal
  • moral emotions
  • theory of mind

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