Document Type

Honors Project


Advised by Steve Guglielmo


Theories of blame, mind, and moral attribution consider an individual’s perceived agency, operationalized in part as perceived intentionality and self-control. People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may display social deficits and a greater tendency to engage in problem behavior (PB; American Psychiatric Association, 2013) than neurotypical (NT) people, which may lead people to perceive that individuals with ASD act less agentically. Study 1 shows that the mitigated perceived agency of people with ASD leads to mitigated blame attribution. In addition to perceived agency, theories of mind and moral attribution account for perceptions of an individual’s capacity to experience emotions, pleasure, and suffering. Based upon these forms of perception, Gray et al.’s (2007) theory of mind perception (TMP) states that minds are perceived along the dimensions of agency and experience. Similarly, Gray, Young, and Waytz’s (2012) theory of dyadic morality (TDM) states that a person’s moral status is perceived along the dimensions of moral agency and patiency. While these dimensional pairs are highly similar, the TMP states that its proposed dimensions are independent of each other while the TDM states that its proposed dimensions are inversely related. Studies 2 and 3 generated support for the prediction that these dimensions are independently related, as proposed by TMP, while the inverse relationship posited by the TDM did not receive support.



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