Who Is to Blame? Children's and Adults' Moral Judgments Regarding Victim and Transgressor Negligence

Kelly Lynn Mulvey, Seçil Gönültaş, Cameron B. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Research has documented that individuals consider outcomes, intentions, and transgressor negligence when making morally relevant judgments (Nobes, Panagiotaki, & Engelhardt, 2017). However, less is known about whether individuals attend to both victim and transgressor negligence in their evaluations. The current study measured 3- to 6-year-olds (N = 70), 7- to 12-year-olds (N = 54), and adults' (N = 97, ages 18–25 years) moral judgments about scenarios in which an accidental transgression occurred involving property damage or physical harm. Participants were either assigned to conditions where the victim or the transgressor was negligent. Results revealed attention to negligence among all participants across a range of different moral judgment measures (including acceptability judgments, punishment judgments, and attributions of blame), with age-related increases in attention to negligence evident. Results provide novel evidence that children and adults consider not just outcomes and intentions, but also the role of negligence in both victims and transgressors, when making social decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12833
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


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