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Reinforcement and Punishment among Preschoolers: Characteristics, Effects, and Correlates
Michael E. Lamb, M. Ann Easterbrooks and George W. Holden
Vol. 51, No. 4 (Dec., 1980), pp. 1230-1236
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1129565
Page Count: 7
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Observers recorded the sex-typed activities of 49 children during free-play sessions in nursery school and kindergarten. Reinforcing and punishing responses of peers and teachers were also recorded. Analyses showed that children reinforced one another primarily for gender-appropriate activities. Most reinforcements and punishments were received from same-sex peers. Punished activities were terminated more rapidly than reinforced activities. Reinforcements were more effective when they were received for sex-appropriate acts (i. e., sex-appropriate acts that were reinforced continued longer than reinforced cross-sex acts), whereas punishments were more effective when they were received for sex-inappropriate acts (i. e., following punishment, sex-inappropriate acts were terminated more quickly than sex-appropriate activities). Individual susceptibility to punishing responses was significantly correlated (r = - .43) with susceptibility to reinforcing responses, indicating consistent individual differences in children's responses to peer influences. Older children punished peers intentionally (rather than incidentally) proportionately more often than younger children did. Attempts to measure social competence were unsuccessful.
Child Development © 1980 Society for Research in Child Development