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The Side-Effect Effect in Theory of Mind and Moral Judgment

  • THE KOREAN JOURNAL OF DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY
  • 2009, 22(3), pp.69-83
  • Publisher : The Korean Society For Developmental Psychology
  • Research Area : Social Science > Psychological Science

Hyeon Jin Lee 1

1영남대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The side-effect effect refers the tendency that subjects regard morally bad side effects as intentional and morally good side effects as unintentional. We conducted 5 experiments to examine whether Korean adults as well as children showed the side-effect effect. Experiment 1, 2, and 3 used 6 stories, half of which made another person happy as the side effect (i.e., good condition) and half of which made another person sad as the side effect (i.e., bad condition). These are modified versions of stories used in Leslie, Knobe, and Cohen(2006). The results showed that the adults as well as children did not show the side-effect effect. They did not infer the protagonist's intention not only in the good condition but also in the bad condition. The experiment 4 and 5 were therefore conducted to confirm the findings from the previous experiments, using another type of stories originated by Knobe(2003, 2004). The subjects were randomly assigned to 4 conditions, such as the 'environmental harm/intention question' condition, the 'environmental harm/intentionally question' condition, 'environmental good/intention question' condition, and 'environmental good/intentionally question' condition. The side-effect effect was found in 5-year-old children as well as adults in these experiments. Most subjects said that the chairman brought about the side effect intentionally in the harm condition, but not in the help condition. Adults inferred the chairman's intention more frequently when being asked as the 'intentionally' question than the 'intention' question, whereas, the children did not show such difference. The results could be discussed in terms of the relation between theory of mind and deontic reasoning.

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