Search This Site

“No One is Going to Recess”: How Children Evaluate Collective and Targeted Punishment

Presenters Name: 
Sarah Thomas
Co Presenters Name: 
Primary Research Mentor: 
Amrisha Vaish
Secondary Research Mentor: 
Caroline Kelsey
12:30 - 1:45
Time of Presentation: 
2019 - 12:30pm to 1:45pm
Newcomb Hall Ballroom
Presentation Type: 
Presentations Academic Category: 
Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: 
Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant

Punishment is a common tool used to enforce norms and manage children’s behavior. In the context of a classroom, when one student misbehaves a teacher must decide to either punish everyone (collective punishment) or just the individual student (targeted punishment). Although both punishments are prevalent, not much is known about how children evaluate these punishments when they are personally subjected to them, or how it affects their relationships with teachers and peers. In the current study, 36 children (n = 18 4-5-year-olds; n = 18 6-7-year-olds) experienced three situations. In two conditions, an individual student committed a transgression and either a Collective or Targeted punishment was administered. In the third situation, acting as a Control condition, everyone in class committed a transgression and everyone received a punishment to see if children’s evaluations change when they themselves were involved with the transgression. In all three situations, the “punishments” were real in that participants got to either keep or had to relinquish their sticker based on the punishment. Based on the findings of Smith and Warneken (2017), we hypothesize that younger children (4-5-year-olds) will view collective punishment as fairer and prefer teachers who administer said punishment whereas older children (6-7-year-olds) will view targeted punishment as fairer and prefer teachers who administer said punishment. It is important to note, that this study was pre-registered using Open Science Framework and data analysis is currently underway. Overall, this study will lead to a better understanding of children’s moral reasoning and perceptions of teacher behavior.