"Forbidden Toy Experiment"
October 29, 2009 1:06pm CST
"Forbidden Toy Experiment" Researchers tested two groups of children by putting them in a room of toys and explaining that they shouldn't play with one of the toys. In group A, severe punishment was promised. In B, a mild punishment. In this particular test, compliance of not playing with the prohibited toy was achieved. The kids generally did not play with the forbidden toy. When the threat of punishment was removed, group A (severe punishment promise) were more likely to play with it. Group B (mild punishment promise) seemed less interested in the forbidden toy. The researchers explained this via "cognitive dissonance." My understanding of their theory is that group A had sufficient motivation in the promised punishment to not play with the toy. The children in group B had to internalize not playing with the toy as the external punishment was insufficient. (They told themselves the toy was of no interest.) When the threat is removed, group A now wants to play with the toy. Group B still retains their internalized disinterest in the toy even after promise of punishment is removed. I could not tell you "why" the kids behaved in this way as there seems to be many possible explanations. It may well be that children in group A were rebelling and asserting their independence in the face of what was seen as tyranny. It might have been that sternly telling group A not to play with the toy etched "play with the toy" in their consciousness. I couldn't tell you which, as I'm not a psychologist. But we can see mirrors of this behavior in real life. When harsh punishments are used, behavior is changed in the presence of the threat of punishment. Outside that immediate threat, behavior reverts to what I'll call a more "wild" state. When fair and firm punishments are employed, such children seem to rebel less against their parent's instructions when released into the world on their own. More Severity does not equal more results. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance
• United States
8 Dec 09
Too bad they don't use this approach punishers. Maybe then, they'd get the point. Be a good thing to put in a parent guide. I've heard it said, all children (for that matter all people) have a currency. When you discover what it is for each person "training" for that reward is made easier. Oh well, maybe I watch too much talk tv.