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Scholars Day 2007, Wednesday, April 11

The Effects of Punishment on Learning in Adults and Children

Past studies have shown that punishment can be used to enhance learning. However, no studies have directly compared the effectiveness of punishers across different age groups. The present study examined how timeouts (punishment) affected acquisition of a visual discrimination task in both children and adults. The participants consisted of 38 children and 32 adults. The task required participants to determine and then remember the correct response (right or left button press) for eight visual stimuli. Approximately half of the participants in each age group received a 0 second timeout, while the other half received a 20 second timeout. The results indicated that when a 20 second timeout was implemented both children and adults acquired the task more rapidly than when there was no timeout. Also, comparisons at each timeout revealed that adults performed better than children. This study shows that punishment does enhance learning for both children and adults.

Presenter: Sierra Freas (Undergraduate Student)
Topic: Psychology
Location: 107 Holmes
Time: 10:45 am (Session II)