Autism researchers admit their reseach is CRAP / Yes, indeed it is.

Unthinking social obedience is not moral behavior.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep04314

The relationship between moral judgment and cooperation in children with high-functioning autism

Jing Li, , Liqi Zhu, & Michaela Gummerum

For the rest of the blah, blah, blah see original. I’m posting this as an example of how ASD researchers are NOT SCIENTIFIC in their mental constructs; indeed they are socially biased in their assumptions. And ridiculously “childish” in their “belief” that subjecting a handful of supposedly Typically Developing Children (PC for normal) and a handful of supposedly High Functioning Autistic children (a label which appears to be interchangeable with an Asperger diagnosis – sloppy!) to “nice and naughty” stories and quizzes, pre-loaded with “socially prescribed” answers as to what is “correct” morally. They insist that morality is a question of socially-prescribed “naughty or nice” rules. 

As for the TD children, were they tested against a set of “normal” diagnostic symptoms? Were their brains scanned; were they the object of opinion surveys by parents, teachers, and strangers; tested for IQ across multiple intelligences, videotaped – and their every word, body motion or “magically evident thought processes” ridiculed? Of course not.

Discussion

This study had two main aims: First, to examine whether HFA children could make correct moral judgments, similar to TD children (TD children are held to be exemplars of moral decision-making, intuition and action? REALLY? Their “moral choices” are CORRECT merely because they conform to the “naughty or nice” social response standards of the researchers); and second, whether an interaction partner’s morality affected cooperation in HFA and TD children. (Again, a conformist idea that “naughty people” ought to be exiled from interaction with “nice people”, permanently, for one or two contrived (fictional) behaviors. Remember these “tests” carefully simplified and dumbed-down moral tales that reflect Western religious prejudice.

None of that “Eastern” compassion stuff is allowed! 

Concerning the first aim, both HFA children and TD children could make moral judgment correctly in this study, consistent with Leslie, et al.13. Thus, following these authors and others(e.g., Grant, et al.19), HFA children seemed to have little difficulty in evaluating certain acts (such as hitting and sharing) in terms of their morality. On the contrary, HFA children judged harming others as significantly worse than TD children. This indicates that HFA children might have more rigid criteria for what constitutes morally naughty actions. (Could we please drop the naughty-nice stuff and use adult language?) This might be because HFA children are more rule-oriented when it comes to certain behavior because of their disorder. For example, stereotypy, compulsive behavior, sameness, ritualistic behavior, repetitive or restricted behavior have been associated as part of the diagnosis of autism27. Thus, HFA children might also be more rule-oriented when it comes to moral actions. (Wow! Talk about improper inference from a list of “symptoms, traits, behaviors” that are all assumed to apply to all Asperger individuals – “guilt by label of Autism”. Outrageous…) Similarly, Baron-Cohen28 argued that although autistic individuals are typically self-focused, they are highly moral people, have a strong sense of justice, and think deeply about how to be good. Well, gee whiz! Thanks B-C. That’s certainly a positive (indictment) of Asperger people. (Just wait – these admirable qualities are about to be turned into ‘defects”)

Naughty us for having strong moral principles in a society that promotes violence, bullying, lying, cheating and inequality; the good ol’ USA is undeniably lacking such “old-fashioned” Asperger notions of basic morality, Thank God! 

While HFA children can correctly judge the morality of nice and naughty acts, being partnered with persons of different morality did not change their level of cooperation. Furthermore, HFA children’s cooperation was not different when they played with a random stranger, compared with when they played with the nice child or with the naughty child. On the other hand, TD children cooperated more when they played with the nice child than that when they played with the naughty child or the random stranger. These latter findings are in line with previous research22,23 which shows that, beginning in the preschool years, TD children take into account their interaction partners’ previous moral behavior when deciding whether to act prosocially. (Yes, TD automatic social discrimination IS CORRECT behavior.)

HFA children essentially focus on their own self, and have lower empathic abilities than normally developing children3. (Here we go! Social indictment of an inherent Asperger egalitarian view of human worth! None of that “compassion-equality” stuff is allowed in the good ol’ USA.) While some HFA children show empathy with others and overcome their self-focus, this takes great cognitive effort28. Being less interested in others and the world outside their own might lead to HFA paying little attention to partner’s morality when they play in the PDG, even (when?) they had an idea about the morality of the partner. Thus, HFA children’s cooperative performance was not influenced by partner’s morality, although they could correctly judge others’ morality in basic moral judgment stories. (Does this not hint that Asperger types possess a more sophisticated and generous spirit toward the array of behavior that is human behavior? That people are NOT DEFINED by broad generalizations; by one or two “naughty choices” but by an overall PATTERN of behavior? The choice to “not cooperate or mingle with naughty people” is NEUROTYPICAL class prejudice. It is NTs who exclude “certain people” based on knee-jerk social rules; racism – explain that! Entire “categories” of human beings -minorities, women, non-Christian religious groups, “foreign” ethnicities and those of low economic status are considered by NTs to be “naughty people”…) 

What would Bhudda do? 

In addition, differences in peer experience between HFA children and TD children might also contribute to finding that TD children show different levels of cooperation with different partners while HFA children do not. HFA children have difficulties in social initiation and social-emotional understanding, but are not insensitive to social stimuli, as they were as likely to interact socially with peers29. Autistic children are in a vicious circle of social isolation. (Gee whiz; do you think social people, following rigid social rules, may have some part in creating this situation?) On the one hand, they want to interact with peers and to express the feelings of disappointment and loneliness in the absence of interaction. On the other hand, they do not know how to properly interact with peers due to their limited capacity and experience of social and emotional understanding30. Children with autism have poor experiences in interacting with peer group in daily life, which might make HFA children show similar levels of cooperation in experimental situations (such as the prisoner’s dilemma game) when they played with (a) partner of different morality. In contrast, TD children make many friends and accumulate rich experiences to get along with peers in elementary school, at which stage it is important to develop friendships31. Moreover, attention to moral principles, such as norm and promise32, becomes an important feature of friendships and peer relations33. Therefore, TD children might be more likely to take into account their partners’ characters, including their morality, compared with HFA children.

One may as well substitute all kinds of social prejudice – race, income level, ethnicity, non-Christian religion, non-conformist values, foreign birth, disability and neorodiversity for the euphemism of “morality”.

The brutal American childhood hierarchy of social rejection, exile, intimidation and violence against peers, which arises from rigid social hierarchy rules is so much better than compassionate open-mindedness.  

Furthermore, HFA children also have deficits in reciprocal peer interaction and social cognition. They perform more ritualized behavior and less social interactive behavior (such as prosocial behavior). Moreover, the social interactive behavior performed by autistic children is only to maintain similarity but not to share emotion and experience with peers29.

How dare the researchers condemn an entire group of people, whom they have defined and  segregated from the rest of humanity, out of their own prejudice, as “not human” robots without a desire to “share emotion and experience”

Here it is in one sentence: the true “message”-

Peer interactions provide opportunities to initiate and maintain prosocial behavior with individuals of similar power and status.

In these relationships children learn the principles of reciprocity and open communication34. Children develop a deep understanding about moral (SOCIAL)identity by thinking about moral events from different perspectives. Moreover, peers are able to provide warm and powerful resources, (yikes!) which is an important ingredient of prosocial behavior. Peers also give feedback by providing reward and punishment to promote and diminish moral and prosocial behavior. Peers and the experiences based on interacting with peers are important to children’s prosocial behavior, trust and intimacy, which are produced through reciprocal prosocial behavior and, are the foundation of the development of positive morals34. Peers and peer relationship are important to the development of children’s prosocial behavior35,36. HFA children’s deficiency in peer relationship might lead them to perform indiscriminate cooperation when playing with the naughty and the nice partner in the current study. 

In addition, HFA children have typically deficits in social function, based on their impairments in ToM and empathy, although they have normal IQ. Empathy is important for children’s development of moral judgment, prosocial behaviors, and social competence37. The strong relationship between moral judgment and ToM is also confirmed by neuroimaging evidence10,38,39. (Totally unproven non-scientific assumption) Furthermore, the relationship between theory of mind and cooperation has also been shown through behavioral evidence40 and neuroimaging41,42,43. Thus, HFA children’s deficits in social functioning might lead them to perform similar cooperation when they interacted with partners of different moralities in prisoner’s dilemma game, although they could judge other’s morality correctly. (OMG! Yes, there are no other possible explanations for this single “conclusion” to which these researchers  present as an “obsession” – some kind of “global truth” about “correct” human behavior. 

Some limitations of the current study should be acknowledged. Firstly, while HFA and TD children were matched on age, gender, and IQ; differences in children’s verbal ability were not controlled for. Future research should measure HFA children’s language ability before examining their social behavior.

Then why present a paper based on inadequate preparation, untested assumptions and hearsay evidence?

Secondly, although the autistic children in this study were evaluated by the expert clinician based on DSM-IV criteria and their diagnosis was confirmed by other multiple clinical evaluation (see details in Method section), their diagnosis was not confirmed by the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). Future research should use this more standardized clinical instrument to ensure a research-quality diagnosis. In addition, more sophisticated moral judgments should be used further in the future. For example, since HFA children might have particular difficulties with understanding others’ intentions moral judgments based on others’ intentions and cooperation with well- and ill-intended partners might be an interesting direction for future studies. (How garbled can this get?)

How novel: Researchers admit that their research is CRAP.

Overall, this study found that both HFA children and TD children could make correct moral judgments, and HFA children might have even more rigid criteria for what constitutes a “naughty” act than TD children. (How terrible!) HFA children’s cooperation was similar when they played with partners of different moralities, while TD children showed higher cooperation when they played with a morally nice child than that when they interacted with a naughty child. Therefore, HFA children’s cooperation was not influenced by partner’s morality, while TD children’s cooperation might be prompted by partner’s nice morality. This study thus gives an important insight into high-functioning autistic children’s moral judgment and moral behavior.

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