Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 42, Issue 7, pp 1364–1376 | Cite as

Moral and Social Reasoning in Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Cory ShulmanEmail author
  • Ainat Guberman
  • Noa Shiling
  • Nirit Bauminger
Original Paper


This study compared moral and social reasoning in individuals with and without autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Ten familiar schoolyard transgressions were shown to 18 participants with and 18 participants without ASD. They judged the appropriateness of the behavior and explained their judgments. Analysis of the rationales revealed that participants with typical development used significantly more abstract rules than participants with ASD, who provided more nonspecific condemnations of the behaviors. Both groups judged social conventional transgressions to be more context-bound than moral transgressions, with this distinction more pronounced in typically developing individuals, who also provided significantly more examples of situations in which the depicted behaviors would be acceptable. The educational implications of these findings for individuals with ASD are discussed.


Autism spectrum disorders Social and moral reasoning Abstract thinking 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cory Shulman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ainat Guberman
    • 2
  • Noa Shiling
    • 1
  • Nirit Bauminger
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Social WorkHebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael
  2. 2.David Yellin Academic College of EducationJerusalemIsrael
  3. 3.Bar Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael

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