Effects of rewarding children for resisting temptation on attitude change in the forbidden toy paradigm

David G. Perry*, Kay Bussey, Judy Fischer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Children who resist temptation under a mild threat of punishment for deviation subsequently devalue the forbidden activity, whereas those who resist under a severe threat do not. According to self‐perception theory, mild‐threat children attribute their avoidance of the activity to a lack of interest in it, whereas severe‐threat subjects attribute their avoidance to the threat. A first study tested the hypothesis that promising children an extrinsic reward for not deviating would prevent them from devaluing under mild threat, because it would provide an alternative external locus to which they could attribute their avoidance. This was supported. A second study demonstrated, however, that giving subjects an expectation of reward that was not contingent on avoiding the forbidden activity also prevented devaluation under mild threat. This latter result, plus the finding in both studies that promising a reward under severe threat caused children to devalue the forbidden activity, disconfirmed the self‐perception account but confirmed predictions stemming from “self‐control theory”. Here, reward expectancy is considered to distract mild‐threat subjects from experiencing the frustration that causes them to devalue the activity as well as to distract severe‐threat subjects from concentrating on the pleasurable aspects of the activity (which ordinarily prevents devaluation under severe threat). 1980 Australian Psychological Society

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-234
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Journal of Psychology
Volume32
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes

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