Title

A preliminary investigation of moral reasoning and empathy after traumatic brain injury in adolescents

Document Type

Journal Article

Publisher

Informa Heathcare

Faculty

Faculty of Business and Law

School

School of Law and Justice/Sellenger Centre for Research in Law, Justice and Social Change

RAS ID

17419

Comments

This article was originally published as: Beauchamp, M., Dooley, J. J., & Anderson, V. (2013). A preliminary investigation of moral reasoning and empathy after traumatic brain injury in adolescents. Brain Injury, 27(7-8), 896-902. Original article available here

Abstract

Primary objective: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) sustained during childhood can affect a number of socio-cognitive skills; however, little attention has focused on the integrity of moral reasoning in the assessment of post-TBI social sequelae and the role of empathy and intelligence on moral maturity. Research design: In a quasi-experimental, cross-sectional research design, moral reasoning maturity and empathy in adolescents with mild-to-severe TBI (n=25) were compared to typically-developing peers (n=66). Methods and procedures: Participants were administered the So-Moral and So-Mature, tasks of socio-moral reasoning and maturity, the Index of Empathy for Children and Adolescents, the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence and a demographic questionnaire. Main outcomes and results: Participants with TBI had significantly lower levels of moral reasoning maturity. Further, adolescents with moderate-to-severe TBI had lower levels of empathy. Empathy correlated positively with moral reasoning abilities and, together with intellectual function, predicted a small, but significant proportion of moral reasoning outcome. Conclusions: Youth who sustained TBI during childhood have poorer moral reasoning abilities than their non-injured peers, potentially placing them at risk for poor social decision-making and socially maladaptive behaviour. This can have a significant impact on long-term social functioning.

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