Can Reinforcement Induce Children to Falsely Incriminate Themselves?
This study examined whether reinforcement can induce children to falsely incriminate themselves. Ninety-nine children in kindergarten through third grade were questioned regarding the staged theft of a toy. Half received reinforcement for self-incriminating responses. Within 4 minutes reinforced children made 52% false admissions of guilty knowledge concerning the theft, and 43% false admissions of having witnessed it. Corresponding figures for controls were 36% and 25%. Twelve percent of children admitted to participating in the theft, but the effect of reinforcement was only marginally significant. The findings suggest that reinforcement can sometimes induce children to falsely implicate themselves in wrongdoing.
F. James Billings, Tanya Taylor, James Burns, Deb L. Corey, Sena Garven, and James M. Wood. "Can Reinforcement Induce Children to Falsely Incriminate Themselves?" Law and Human Behavior (2007).
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/james_wood/4
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