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Attentional basis of deontic reasoning about permission rules in 3-5 year-old children

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Date Issued:
2014
Summary:
Deontic reasoning is a domain of reasoning concerning permissions, obligations, and prohibitions often utilizing conditional logic (Wason, 1968). Correct identification of rule violations is bolstered by the addition of a social valence to the rule for both adults (Tooby & Cosmides, 1992) and children (Harris & Nunez, 1996). This “deontic advantage” for violation-detection is taken as evidence for evolved social-cognitive mechanisms for reasoning about cheaters in the context of social contracts (Fiddick, 2004), and the early development of this advantage supports an evolutionary account of such abilities (Cummins, 2013). The current research hypothesized that differential attention to rule elements underlies the early emergence of the deontic advantage. Accuracy to a change-detection paradigm was used to assess implicit attention to various rule elements after children were told 4 different rules (2 social contracts, 2 epistemic statements). Thirteen 3-year-olds, twenty 4-year-olds, and sixteen 5-year-olds completed the experiment. Each participant completed 64 change-detection trials embedded within a scene depicting adherence to or violation of the rule. Results indicate that 4 and 5 year-olds consistently attend to the most relevant rule information for making decisions regarding violation (F(6, 124)=3.86, p<.01, ηp 2 = .144) and that they use observed compliance/non-compliance with the rule to further direct attention (F(6, 138)=3.27, p<.01, ηp 2 = .125). Furthermore, accuracy of change-detection to scenes of rule violation increases from ages 4 to 5, but not 3 to 4. However, a novel finding emerged suggesting that children use the absence of benefit to direct attention, suggesting possible “being-cheated” detection, rather than cheater-detection (F(9, 345) = 21.855, p<.001, ηp 2 = .322). This work is the first to investigate a deontic effect on attentional processes and opens a new avenue of inquiry to understanding the internal and external variables contributing to the development of deontic reasoning. Follow up studies are currently underway to clarify how children use these environmental cues and in/out group membership to direct attention to rule violations.
Title: Attentional basis of deontic reasoning about permission rules in 3-5 year-old children.
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Name(s): Sellers, Patrick D. II, author
Bjorklund, David F., Thesis advisor
Florida Atlantic University, Degree grantor
Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
Department of Psychology
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Electronic Thesis Or Dissertation
Date Created: 2014
Date Issued: 2014
Publisher: Florida Atlantic University
Place of Publication: Boca Raton, Fla.
Physical Form: application/pdf
Extent: 54 p.
Language(s): English
Summary: Deontic reasoning is a domain of reasoning concerning permissions, obligations, and prohibitions often utilizing conditional logic (Wason, 1968). Correct identification of rule violations is bolstered by the addition of a social valence to the rule for both adults (Tooby & Cosmides, 1992) and children (Harris & Nunez, 1996). This “deontic advantage” for violation-detection is taken as evidence for evolved social-cognitive mechanisms for reasoning about cheaters in the context of social contracts (Fiddick, 2004), and the early development of this advantage supports an evolutionary account of such abilities (Cummins, 2013). The current research hypothesized that differential attention to rule elements underlies the early emergence of the deontic advantage. Accuracy to a change-detection paradigm was used to assess implicit attention to various rule elements after children were told 4 different rules (2 social contracts, 2 epistemic statements). Thirteen 3-year-olds, twenty 4-year-olds, and sixteen 5-year-olds completed the experiment. Each participant completed 64 change-detection trials embedded within a scene depicting adherence to or violation of the rule. Results indicate that 4 and 5 year-olds consistently attend to the most relevant rule information for making decisions regarding violation (F(6, 124)=3.86, p<.01, ηp 2 = .144) and that they use observed compliance/non-compliance with the rule to further direct attention (F(6, 138)=3.27, p<.01, ηp 2 = .125). Furthermore, accuracy of change-detection to scenes of rule violation increases from ages 4 to 5, but not 3 to 4. However, a novel finding emerged suggesting that children use the absence of benefit to direct attention, suggesting possible “being-cheated” detection, rather than cheater-detection (F(9, 345) = 21.855, p<.001, ηp 2 = .322). This work is the first to investigate a deontic effect on attentional processes and opens a new avenue of inquiry to understanding the internal and external variables contributing to the development of deontic reasoning. Follow up studies are currently underway to clarify how children use these environmental cues and in/out group membership to direct attention to rule violations.
Identifier: FA00004159 (IID)
Degree granted: Thesis (M.A.)--Florida Atlantic University, 2014.
Collection: FAU Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection
Note(s): Includes bibliography.
Subject(s): Child development
Child psychology
Judgment (Ethics)
Judgment in children
Moral development
Reasoning in children
Held by: Florida Atlantic University Libraries
Sublocation: Digital Library
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/fau/fd/FA00004159
Use and Reproduction: Copyright © is held by the author, with permission granted to Florida Atlantic University to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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Owner Institution: FAU
Is Part of Series: Florida Atlantic University Digital Library Collections.