Threatening children does not promote truth-telling – it can have the opposite effect

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Threatening children does not promote truth-telling, according to research by McGill University scientists. In fact, using threats of punishment can have the opposite effect.

“Children often lie to try to avoid getting in trouble–especially when they have done something wrong,”  Victoria Talwar, professor of educational and counseling psychology at McGill University and lead researcher on the report, told The Speaker.

Victoria Talwar
Dr Victoria Talwar

“The bottom line is that punishment does not promote truth-telling,” Talwar said of her findings. “In fact, the threat of punishment can have the reverse effect by reducing the likelihood that children will tell the truth when encouraged to do so. This is useful information for all parents of young children and for the professionals like teachers who work with them and want to encourage young children to be honest.”

The study involved almost 400 children ages 4 through 8, who were each told not to peek at a toy while the researcher went out for a minute. Video cameras recorded that over two-thirds of the children peeked. Around the same amount of children lied about peeking.

For every month increase in age, children were less likely to peek, and for every month increase, children were more likely to lie and to be able to maintain their lies during later questioning.

“With age children have greater self-regulation/self control,” Talwar said. “We only left the room for a minute. If we had left for longer more children may have peeked. However, this is a common finding in the scientific literature that with age children are have better inhibitory control.”

The children more often told the truth when the experimenter told them that he or she would be happy if the child did so than if the experimenter told the children that the child him- or herself would be happy for telling the truth.

The research teams findings were what they expected–that the younger the child was, the more likely the reason they told the truth was to please an adult, but that older children more frequently told the truth because they felt it was the right thing to do.

Appeals based on punishment were not found to increase truth-telling. Overall, children were found to be less likely to tell the truth if they were afraid of being punished than either of the other two appeals.

Talway provided  some comments on alternatives to punishment that may be more likely to achieve the effect parents desire.

“What seems to increase honesty is giving children explicit messages about the value of honesty. If we wish to teach children to act in prosocial ways, we need to teach children about those behaviors and why they are important.”

“We need to teach children about the value of being honest,” Talway told us. “When a child does something wrong a natural reaction is to punish their transgression. However, if they tell the truth about it, we can give them some recognition for it. ‘I’m not happy you broke my vase–and you can help me clean it up/fix it/use your pocket money to replace it–but I’m glad you told me the truth.’ If we recognize honesty that is a powerful way to encourage and teach children that honesty is valued.”

The report, “The effects of punishment and appeals for honesty on children’s truth-telling behavior,” was authored by Victoria Talwar, Cindy Arruda, and Sarah Yachison, and was published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

By Cheryl Bretton

 

Possible new law of nature on the way

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The world of physics is excited about strong but early evidence about the behavior of muons, paricles identical to electrons only 200x more massive (heavier), which once born take 2.2 microseconds to decay into an electron, and which spin like tops. In a new, extremely precise measurement, they were made to wobble using magnetic fields but they unexpectedly wobbled quite significantly faster than the Standard Model suggests they would. They might spin so fast due to an unknown force caused by an unknown particle, and this is what is so exciting.

“We found that a muon … is not in agreement with our current best theory of physics at the subatomic level, and … it potentially points to a future with new laws, new particles and new forces in physics which we haven’t seen to date,” said Professor Mark Lancaster at U of Manchester.

“The main goal of the experiment is to make the measurement and compare with the theory, and if they disagree then it’s telling us that there’s something in nature which is not in the theory,” explained James Mott at Fermilab.

The four known forces of nature (gravity, electricity, two nuclear forces: strong and weak interactions) have left scientists without an answer for some observed phenomena, such as the speed at which galaxies spin (faster than the best model suggests). Therefore, they continue to search for glitches in their already-tight models which might point them things they don’t yet know about.

The most recent work was done at Fermilab (Muon g-2 experiment), but a similar experiment was already done earlier at the Large Hadron Collider. These tools accelerate particles in large rings at close to the speed of light.

The evidence needs more tests for greater certainty, particularly to rule out the possibility of a systematic error, and particularly with a new, independent experiment, but physicists will be chasing this line of experiment eagerly.

“This is outstanding confirmation of experimental technique, and very, very suggestive of the possibility of new physics,” noted scientist David Hertzon of U of Washington.

By the editors

#AnomalousMagneticDipoleMomentOfTheMuon #QuantumElectrodynamics

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People in Kachin state demonstrate against China

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YANGON, Myanmar – The people in the Pharkant area of Kachin state demonstrated against China this week, drawing a cross on the Chinese flag and burning a picture of Myanmar’s military leader Min Aung Hlaing.

“China stands with the military leader,” shouted the demonstrators.

By Htay Win
Photo credit Aye Yarwaddy

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Myanmar military council arrests the artist Zarganar

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YANGON, Myanmar – The artist Zarganar was arrested by the Myanmar military council from his home in Tarmwe township, Yangon this morning.

Zarganar is not only a director but also a comedian famous for political jokes since the 1988 democratic revolution.

Zarganar was arrested by the Myanmar military many times before 2010.

By Htay Win
Photo credit Zarganar page

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Kayin IDPs struggle to get for food

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YANGON, Myanmar – Kayin internally displaced people are desperate for food, clothing and shelter, hiding in the forest from the air strikes of the Myanmar military.

The IDPs fled to neighboring Thailand, but Thai government turned them back. However, Wednesday morning the Thai government opened Maeseli jetty in Maehaungsaung district to sending rations and medicines over the border to Kayin state, according to a Thai media.

By Htay Win

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Twenty Myanmar celebrities charged with incitement

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YANGON, Myanmar -They were charged under the country’s media law with inciting government employees to join the popular civil disobedience movement (CDM) through social media.

Celebrities took part in the NLD election campaigns and are thought to have played a large part in influencing the public, particularly Myanmar’s youth, to vote for Aung San Suu Kyi.

By Htay Win
Photo credit Myanmar celebrity

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