Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Education Specialist


A sample of 58, 6 to 12 year-old children drawn from admissions to a local psychiatric hospital were read stories depicting acts of victimization and questioned about how both victims and victimizers would be feeling. Participants were randomly assigned to either imagine themselves as victimizers in the stories, or victimizers were presented as hypothetical characters. Acts of both physical and psychological harm were portrayed in which the victimizer either obtained a tangible gain or no gain was received. Children in the self-as-victimizer condition attributed fewer positive emotions and gave more moral rationales than did children in the hypothetical condition who attributed more positive emotions and gave fewer moral rationales. Children also required more probe questioning to attribute negative emotions in the hypothetical condition than in the self-as-victimizer condition. More positive emotions were attributed to hypothetical victimizers for stories of gain versus no gain; however, no distinction between gain versus no gain was found for the self-as-victimizer condition. No developmental effect was found for the positive emotions attributed in either the self-as-victimizer condition or the hypothetical condition. In the self-as-victimizer condition children of all ages attributed primarily negative emotions, while in the hypothetical condition children were more likely to attribute positive emotions across all age levels. In addition, no developmental effect was found for the rationales attributed.


Education | Psychology