Acting intentionally and the side-effect effect.Psychol Sci. 2006 May; 17(5):421-7.PS
The concept of acting intentionally is an important nexus where theory of mind and moral judgment meet. Preschool children's judgments of intentional action show a valence-driven asymmetry. Children say that a foreseen but disavowed side effect is brought about "on purpose" when the side effect itself is morally bad, but not when it is morally good. This is the first demonstration in preschoolers that moral judgment influences judgments of whether something was done on purpose (as opposed to judgments of purpose influencing moral judgment). Judgments of intentionality are usually assumed to be purely factual. That these judgments are sometimes partly normative-even in preschoolers-challenges current understanding. Young children's judgments regarding foreseen side effects depend on whether the children process the idea that the character does not care about the side effect. As soon as preschoolers effectively process the theory-of-mind concept "not care that P," children show the side-effect effect.