Current Studies

The Social World of Youth On-line

We continue to explore the world of digital natives. Youth are increasingly engaging with peers and others on-line. They are digital natives, having been born into this new world of smart phones and social media. Our on-going studies explore how children and adolescents perceive, experience and distinguish between cyberbullying and socially responsible online behaviour. Specifically, we have children and adolescents take on the perspective of the bully or the bystander in hypothetical cyberbullying scenarios. From here, we can explore the type and intensity of emotions children experience within these roles, as well as how they rationalize their behaviour. This research helps us inform schools who are trying to address teacher and administrator responses to this on-line behavior, parents who wish to teach their youth about on-line safety, and policy makers and corporations who are trying to create laws/rules and interventions to keep youth safe on-line. And youth are not the only ones dealing with this new on-line world! Parents – you are at the forefront of this new age. You are the first parents to have to raise digital natives. You didn’t have this technology when you were growing up and your parents didn’t have to teach you about this technology. We are also doing research with parents to explore and measure the effectiveness of different ways parents can teach their children about on-line safety. Interested in learning more, click here to find out how to be a part of this! We are looking for participants (ages 8-16) to do our studies. Participants will receive a cash honorium for participating.

Speaking the Truth: Finding ways to increase honesty

Our research has shown that it is a normal part of child development for children to start to tell lies in the preschool years. In fact, this ability develops out of the positive development of their cognitive abilities. However, often children’s small fibs are easy to see through. As children’s cognitive abilities become more sophisticated, so do their abilities to conceal the truth – until they get as good as adults. Adults, of course, tell the occasional lie as well. Of course, we want children and adults to be truthful. However, how to we teach children about being honest. How do we create conditions where children (and adults) feel comfortable to tell the truth about their behaviour and other’s behaviours (think about whistleblowers who may feel trepidation about reporting about other’s dishonesty). We have a series of on-going studies looking at ways to promote truth telling in young children. Specifically, we are examining the effects of different types of feedback on the overall frequency of truth telling or lying. Currently we have a few different studies on this. In one study, they will play some games and be asked about their own behaviour (i.e. did they peek at an answer). In another study, they will witness another person steal some money from a wallet and later be asked what they recall of the event. In another study, they will witness another person cheat on a quiz and later be asked about the event. We will examine how giving different instructions that emphasize positive aspects of honesty, or make a commitment to the truth, or different questions affect children’s willingingness to disclose details about the event. In addition, children’s cognitive abilities such as perspective-taking and memory will be examined. These studies involve children playing games to examine their truth-telling behaviours and reading stories where children are asked to evaluate the character’s behaviours. Practically, this research will inform caregivers and professionals working with children on how to better promote honesty in children at school, at home, and when interviewed by clinical and forensic professionals who wish are trying to help children. Interested in finding out more, please contact us here. We are looking for participants (ages 3-16) to do our studies. Participants will receive a cash honorium for participating and a small toy/gift.

Children’s moral evaluations of other’s actions

How do children think about other’s charitable actions? How do the evaluate lies that are told to help others?  We are looking at children’s moral evaluations of other’s behaviour that is intended to help others or to help oneself.  Children will hear or read short stories and asked what they think of the character’s actions. They will also complete short tasks to examine their perspective-taking skills and cognitive abilities.   This research will tell us how children understand people’s intentions and how they evaluate other’s behaviours.  If you are interested, please contact us.

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