“Conjured” screen gave five years to write off

Scientists from China, USA and Canada found that isolate children from cheating during the test, you can even use a transparent screen or any other obstacles — as long as it was strictly between the child and the answer sheet, where he can write off. Works in this case, and the imaginary barrier, “conjured” by using toy magic wand. The effect scientists call “moral barrier”, and its counterpart in everyday life can serve, for example, plastic traffic cones, write the scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Numerous works by the Nobel laureate in Economics in 2017 Richard Thaler on the theory of nudges (eng. nudge theory — read more about it you can read in the book “Nudge. The architecture of choice,” an excerpt from which we published). According to this theory, decisions and behavior of people can be controlled not only by direct instructions and tips, but actually, nudge — that is something that imperceptibly for themselves. For example, on the taste preferences of consumers can be influenced by using the packaging and utensils: for example, a cocktail of tall glasses seem people better than the same exact cocktail drunk from a glass lower.

Similar to the way something subtle can push, it can stop (e.g., from improper behavior like cheating), but it is not studied so often: largely because it is very difficult to separate the external constraints from internal (for example, some morals). To hold this line, Li Zhao (Zhao Li) from the Pedagogical University in Hangzhou and her colleagues proposed the hypothesis of “moral barrier”: according to her misconduct of the person to protect, after some line between the agent and the fact that he is forbidden — and a trait can be both real and imaginary. An example of this effect (of course, real) can be traffic cones or tape fencing at the airport: despite the fact that their fairly easy to work around or remove, people are still more likely to follow them than not.

To test their hypothesis, the scientists conducted a series of experiments with the participation of 350 children aged five to six years. Participants were given a set of problems in arithmetic: for example, to calculate the number on a piece of painted roosters, or count all the berries on the sheet, where in addition to berries there are still bananas and elephants. The last task was the most difficult: the children had to count the number of squares in a narrowing towards the center “funnel”, while the squares was much more than a child could count them.

Before you give the children the task, the researcher informed them that if the test is not delivered on time (only had five minutes) or a job is done incorrectly, it will not be counted — and the child will not receive remuneration due to him. On the next table, the experimenter put a sheet with the answers, telling the child what the piece is intended for inspection, and that he’s not allowed to pry.

After the child has started the test, the experimenter apologized and went out, leaving one child — all the job filmed. Depending on the experiment, the researcher also put the screen: the screen was either transparent or frosted, stood either between the child and the table or tables in front of, or behind, or to the side. In one condition no screen did not exist: instead, the experimenter using a toy magic wand to “cast” a screen between the child and the next table (that is, the screen was imaginary).

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