Children's Judgements About Common Classroom Punishments

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The present study examines children's thinking about common classroom punishments. Participants (45 third- and fifth-grade students) were asked questions pertaining to the frequency and effectiveness of teacher-executed punishments for two types of classroom misbehaviours. One misbehaviour was a moral infraction (stealing), and the other misbehaviour was a conventional transgression (chewing gum in the classroom). Two types of punishments were measured: presentation (presenting child with unpleasant stimuli) and removal (removing pleasant stimuli or taking away a privilege). Results indicate that children perceived presentation punishments, as compared to removal punishments, as occurring more often. Additionally, children rated presentation punishments as being more effective than removal punishments. Children also differed in their judgements about removal punishments depending on whether the invoking behaviour was moral or conventional. For example, children believed removal punishments were more effective in light of a moral violation, as compared to a conventional transgression. Applied and theoretical implications are discussed.

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