Moral and social reasoning in autism spectrum disorders

Cory Shulman*, Ainat Guberman, Noa Shiling, Nirit Bauminger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1364-1376
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Abstract thinking
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Social and moral reasoning


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