Punishment and sympathy judgments: is the quality of mercy strained in Asperger's syndrome?

J Autism Dev Disord. 2010 Oct;40(10):1219-26. doi: 10.1007/s10803-010-0980-4.


This study examined reasoning about wrongdoing in people with Asperger's syndrome (AS) and matched healthy controls in relation to car accident scenarios. The two groups made similar judgments with respect to degree of driver negligence for both fines imposed and sympathy ratings. They also made similar judgments of fines in relation to the type of justification given for the drivers' actions. However, the AS group differentiated more in sympathy judgments relating to good and poor justifications. The AS group thus appeared to show preserved judgment with respect to compensation and sympathy for the victim and fines for the driver, but expressed less sympathy towards drivers with poor justifications for their actions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Asperger Syndrome / psychology*
  • Empathy*
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Morals
  • Punishment*
  • Theory of Mind*