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Morality in autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review

  • E. E. Dempsey (a1), C. Moore (a1), S. A. Johnson (a1) (a2), S. H. Stewart (a1) (a3) (a4) and I. M. Smith (a1) (a2) (a5)...

Abstract

Moral reasoning and decision making help guide behavior and facilitate interpersonal relationships. Accounts of morality that position commonsense psychology as the foundation of moral development, (i.e., rationalist theories) have dominated research in morality in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Given the well-documented differences in commonsense psychology among autistic individuals, researchers have investigated whether the development and execution of moral judgement and reasoning differs in this population compared with neurotypical individuals. In light of the diverse findings of investigations of moral development and reasoning in ASD, a summation and critical evaluation of the literature could help make sense of what is known about this important social-cognitive skill in ASD. To that end, we conducted a systematic review of the literature investigating moral decision making among autistic children and adults. Our search identified 29 studies. In this review, we synthesize the research in the area and provide suggestions for future research. Such research could include the application of an alternative theoretical framework to studying morality in autism spectrum disorder that does not assume a deficits-based perspective.

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Corresponding author

Author for Correspondence: E. E. Dempsey, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, P.O. Box 15000, 1355 Oxford Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4R2, Canada. E-mail: Erin.Dempsey@dal.ca

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The authors also wish to thank Ty Pratt and Stef Hartlin for screening studies for relevance for this review.

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References

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Keywords

Morality in autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review

  • E. E. Dempsey (a1), C. Moore (a1), S. A. Johnson (a1) (a2), S. H. Stewart (a1) (a3) (a4) and I. M. Smith (a1) (a2) (a5)...

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