01-10-2013 | Original Article

Interpretive Understanding, Sympathy, and Moral Emotion Attribution in Oppositional Defiant Disorder Symptomatology

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Abstract
This study examined the relations between interpretive understanding, sympathy, and moral emotion attribution (MEA) in the prediction of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) symptomatology in an ethnically diverse sample of 128 4- and 8-year-old children (49 % girls). Caregivers rated the children’s ODD symptoms. Interpretive understanding was assessed using an advanced theory-of-mind task. Sympathy was measured via caregiver- and child-report. Strength of MEA was assessed utilizing the children’s responses to six hypothetical moral transgressions. Results revealed that interpretive understanding, sympathy, and strength of MEA in the exclusion domain predicted ODD symptoms negatively. Caregiver-reported sympathy partially mediated and moderated the relation between interpretive understanding and ODD symptoms. Strength of MEA in the rule violation domain moderated the relation between interpretive understanding and ODD symptoms. The findings shed light on the importance of social-cognitive and affective-moral antecedents of ODD symptoms.

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