This study examined maltreated and nonmaltreated preschool children's judgments regarding hypothetical provoked and unprovoked moral transgressions. Maltreated children (17 physically abused and 19 neglected) and 19 matched nonmaltreated children rated the severity and deserved punishment and evaluated affective responses to six hypothetical moral transgressions which were depicted as both unprovoked and provoked by another child's actions. All children rated unprovoked transgressions as more serious and deserving of punishment and as eliciting more happiness and fear and less anger than transgressions that were depicted as provoked by another's actions. No gender or maltreatment status differences in ratings of transgression severity and deserved punishment were found; however, patterns of affective responses to hypothetical transgressions differed as a function of maltreatment subtype. Findings are discussed in terms of previous research on maltreatment and moral judgment development.
- Moral behavior
- Social cognition