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Sharon A. Nelson Experiment
Transcript of Sharon A. Nelson Experiment
Dependent Variables Independent Variables -Children of each age were randomly assigned
to one of the 3 story-presentation conditions Subjects Sharon A. Nelson Experiment Factors Influencing Young Children's Use
of Motives and Outcomes as Moral Criteria Results Hypothesis -60 preschool children (ages 3-4) -30 second grade children (ages 6-8) -Half of the children in each grade level were male, other half was female -Children were mostly white from middle class urban area and participated w/ parental consent Materials -Stories: 4 versions w/ 2 lvls of motives and 2 lvls of outcomes. Each version had a boy acting from a good or bad motive purposely throwing a ball towards a friend resulting in a good or bad outcome. Motive description always came before outcome descriptions and the actor's overt behavior was the same in all versions. -Pictures: facilitated memory constraints and examined the effects of motive salience (2 sets of black and white line drawings accompanied the 4 versions of the story. Discussion -20 children per group at 3 y/o level and 10 children per group at 7 y/o level. -Children in each group heard all 4 stories -Order of presentation to each child was randomly determined -At the beginning of the test session, the children were familiarized with each point on the rating scale and then given two practice stories to define the "very good" and "very bad" endpoints of the scale. -Children who judged the actor to be good were required to make judgments of goodness by pointing to one of three smiling faces whose diameter increased in size from 5.5 to 7.5 cm so that judgments could be represented from "a little bit good" to "very good." -Twenty-seven preschool boys and girls (mean age = 3-8) participated.
-Children were randomly assigned to one of the three presentation groups.
-Materials and procedures identical to those in Study 1. AICE Questions 1) Describe two factors affecting children’s moral judgments that were investigated by Nelson.  Dependent Variables 3 Modes of Story Presentation
-Verbal + pictures with motive implied
-Verbal + pictures with explicit motive -Subject response
-Amount of information recalled -The study by Nelson about motives and outcomes as moral criteria requires that the children understand the concepts of "good" and "bad" as well as the consequences that actions can have. -The study supports the Nurture side of the Nature/Nurture debate as children learn what is "good" and "bad" from their surroundings. Likewise, morals and values factor into the decisions that one makes throughout his or her life, as seen in this experiment. Moral Judgement
-If children perceived the stories as they were designed to be perceived, their judgments for positive motives and outcomes should have been more positive than their judgments for negative motives and outcomes.
-The overall mean rating of the main character in the good-motive conditions was 5.35, and 2.27 in the bad-motive conditions.
-Whenever there was a negative cue in the motive-outcome pair, especially a negative motive, the other cue had diminished influence on the judgement.
-When the motive information was explicitly pictured, good and bad outcomes had a greater effect on judgments than when it was implicitly pictured or not pictured at all.
-Whereas children show substantial use of outcome information in the good-motive stories under all modes of presentation, only in the picture presentations do they show use of information about outcomes when the motive is bad.
-Three-year-old children made more errors in recalling motives and outcomes (mean = 0.408) than 7-year-old children (mean = 0.158).
-As expected, fewer errors occurred in recalling motive valences in the picture presentations than in the verbal only presentation. Judgements
-As in study 1, good outcomes were rated more positively (mean = 4.89) than bad outcomes (mean =
-Likewise, good motives were rated more positively (mean = 4.89) than bad motives (mean = 2.20)
-Judgments made in the verbal-presentation condition were less influenced by motive than those made in the picture conditions
-The analysis revealed only one significant effect: an outcome X motive interaction
-Children made more errors recalling story information in good motive stories when outcomes were bad (mean =-0.167) than when outcomes were good (mean = 0.074); in bad-motive stories, there were more errors made for good outcomes (mean = 0.130) than for bad outcomes (mean = 0.055). Study 1 Study 2 2) From the study by Nelson (children’s morals):
(a) Describe the pictures in the motive-implicit condition. 
-The pictures were black-and-white line drawings. They were 25 cm X 23 cm and illustrated the motive, behavior and the outcome in each story.
(b) Explain what was different about the pictures in the motive-explicit condition. 
-Positive and negative motives were conveyed explicitly by connecting to the actor's head cartoon-like representations of the goal which he intends to achieve - The negative cues within the different versions of the story when presented verbally diminished the effects of the children's moral judgement. However, once the children were exposed to the images, their moral judgement was most likely to be hindered. To demonstrate that children as young as 3 years old use motives and outcomes as relevant criteria for moral judgements. It was hypothesized that a mode of presentation which makes both motives and outcomes explicit and salient and which keeps them available at the time of judgment, would allow children as young as 3 years old to demonstrate their sensitivity to both these moral criteria. -After the judgment was made, the drawings were removed and children were asked to tell the story aloud exactly as they had heard it. By Ana Calle &