Children's use of intention cues in evaluating behavior

Rachel Karniol*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Examines the proposition that 5-10 yr old children are unable to focus on intention cues but use consequence information in evaluating others' behavior. Piaget's paradigm for testing young children's moral evaluations is examined, as is related research. A conceptual analysis of the paradigm indicates that it is inappropriate for assessing the use of intention cues in evaluating behavior. A review of research suggests that children do evaluate on the basis of intentions and ignore consequence information when accidental and intentional acts are explicitly specified. The review also indicates that children's failure to judge on the basis of intentions when intent and outcome covary may be due to the fact that evaluation of ill-intentioned acts occurs earlier in the developmental sequence than does the evaluation of well-intentioned acts. Possible reasons for these findings are discussed. (34 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-85
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1978


  • intention cues vs consequence information, moral evaluations of behavior, 5-10 yr olds


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