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Cheating: Children's Reactions Towards Advantageous vs. Non-Advantageous Rule Breaking

Presenters Name: 
Christina Marlow
Co Presenters Name: 
Primary Research Mentor: 
Amrisha Vaish
Secondary Research Mentor: 
9:30 - 10:15
Time of Presentation: 
2019 - 9:30am to 10:15am
Newcomb Hall Ballroom
Presentation Type: 
Presentations Academic Category: 
Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: 
Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant

Cheating is a complex social phenomenon. Specifically, cheating consists of both breaking a rule (commonly thought of as a conventional transgression) and gaining an advantage through doing so (commonly thought of as a moral transgression). Children as young as three years of age have been found to engage in cheating behavior but there is less known about how children judge others’ cheating behavior. This study involved the creation of novel video vignettes which consisted of games in which one player broke the rules in an advantageous manner whereas the other broke the rules in a non-advantageous manner. The children were asked to assess each player’s rule breaking behavior and to directly compare the two players. Participants also performed a resource sharing task between the two players. 32 total participants were tested (n = 16 5-year-olds; n = 16 7-year-olds). Results are pending completion of data collection. It is hypothesized that children will prefer the player who broke the rules in a non-advantageous manner and will judge their transgression to be less offensive than the player who broke the rule in an advantageous manner. Furthermore, it is also hypothesized that older children, compared to younger children, will be more likely to pick up on the harm caused by gaining an unfair advantage, and will therefore be more likely to prefer the non-advantageous rule breaker. This research will help us understand how children assess cheating behavior and will inform parent and teacher based behavioral modification interventions on the topic of cheating.