Children's Understanding of Intention and its Expression in Language

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  • Some English verbs carry a moral connotation and thus are relevant to moral reasoning. While research has examined children's understanding of lying, less is known about their understanding of other moral verbs. The current study examined 4- to 7-year-old children's (n = 44) usage and understanding of the 'language of intention' in morally relevant contexts that could be described by the verbs lie, steal, copy, and hide. Participants made intention attributions, moral judgements, and assigned punishment to characters who acted either intentionally or unintentionally. Results showed that younger children were not sensitive to intention across these contexts, but that older children's sensitivity was moving in the correct direction, based on a comparison of their performance to that of an adult sample (n = 48). Children's performance on the main task was generally not related to Theory of Mind and Morally Relevant Theory of Mind understanding.

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  • Copyright © 2022 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
Date Created
  • 2022


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