Narrator: This is Science Today. Psychologists at the University of California , Davis' Center for Mind and Brain have found that young children increasingly recognize that they can feel good by following the rules and considering possible consequences. Using scenario-based studies, study leader Kristin Lagatutta found that contrary to popular belief, kids were not primarily motivated in their actions by punishment.
Lagattuta: We found that less than 20% of future-oriented explanations had anything to do with punishment. It seemed more about breaking some kind of trust or some kind of relationship with an authority figure versus, “I'm going to have to sit in my room or I'm going to lose privileges.” It was the emotions you might elicit in other people as a result of your own behavior.
Narrator: This research has implications for how children develop morals, as well as practical applications for educators and parents.
Lagattuta: Talking to them about consequences and continually reminding them about the consequence and when the consequence happens – show them.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.