Proneness to guilt, shame, and pride in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and neurotypical children.

Autism Res. 2018 Feb 13;:

Authors: Davidson D, Hilvert E, Misiunaite I, Giordano M

Abstract
Self-conscious emotions (e.g., guilt, shame, and pride) are complex emotions that require self-reflection and self-evaluation, and are thought to facilitate the maintenance of societal norms and personal standards. Despite the importance of self-conscious emotions, most research has focused on basic emotion processing in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Therefore, in the present study, we used the Test of Self-Conscious Affect for Children (TOSCA-C) to assess proneness to, or propensity to experience, the self-conscious emotions guilt, shame, and pride in children with ASD and neurotypical children. The TOSCA-C is designed to capture a child’s natural tendency to experience a given emotion across a range of everyday situations [Tangney, Stuewig, & Mashek, 2007]. We also assessed how individual characteristics contribute to the development of proneness to self-conscious emotions, including theory of mind (ToM) and ASD symptomatology. In comparison to neurotypical children, children with ASD showed less proneness to guilt, although all children showed relatively high levels of proneness to guilt. Greater ToM ability was related to more proneness to guilt and authentic pride in children with ASD. Additionally, we found that children with ASD with more severe symptomatology were more prone to hubristic pride. Our results provide evidence of differences in proneness to self-conscious emotions in children with ASD, as well as highlight important mechanisms contributing to how children with ASD may experience self-conscious emotions. Autism Res 2017,4. ©2017 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
LAY SUMMARY: This research examined proneness to guilt, shame, and pride in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and neurotypical children. We found that children with ASD showed less proneness to guilt than neurotypical children. Better understanding of theory of mind was related to greater proneness to guilt and pride, but only for children with ASD. These findings are important because these complex emotions are linked with both positive and negative social behaviors towards others and oneself.

PMID: 29437299 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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