Before I describe the experiment and result I’d like to put my spin on this. My impression is that if American children ‘cheat’ in a low key way more than than British children it is probably because they are perhaps more ambitious and didn’t consider what they did as cheating as the situation was artificial and the consequences of breaking the rules affected no one other than themselves. Perhaps it is correct to cheat under certain circumstances? It is the way of the world.
However, I don’t want anybody to get upset about this. This is not reporting fact and I am just reporting what I read. I think it is an interesting subject because although, on the face of it, it has no connection to cats, it almost certainly does because issues of morality will always affect society as a whole and domestic, stray and feral cats are naturally very much part of our society.
The experiment was conducted to find out how often 6 and 7-year-old children were likely to cheat in a trivia game. This is a test about whether a person is willing or unwilling to cheat in order to gain something for himself or herself.
Six and seven-year-old children in Sheffield, UK were significantly more reluctant to look at the answer to a quiz question when they were forbidden to do so than children in the US who had been tested in previous studies.
Twenty-five percent of 114 British children who were told not to look at the answer written on the back of the final card in a test on trivial information decided to cheat and look at it. Their reward was a packet of crayons. In the American version of the same experiment, up to 70% of the children who participated broke the rule and ‘cheated’.
The psychologist, Elena Hoicka, at the University of Sheffield said that both herself and her colleagues had been surprised by the results.
Although there is a lot of evidence to support the idea that school-age children are able to distinguish between moral judgements (the difference between right and wrong) and social conventions, it would seem that British children viewed ‘peeking’ as a moral issue whereas American children saw it as a social convention. Regarding cheating as a moral issue clearly presents a greater barrier to doing wrong that a social convention which is more likely to be accepted if broken.
These ideas are not fact. They are simply the opinions of the psychologists who conducted the experiments. I wonder what other people think about the results of this experiment?