The ‘Stick Is More Effective Than The Carrot’ When It Comes To Disciplining Children, Study Finds


As far as the delicate world of parenting is concerned, it is often hard to know where exactly the fine line is when it comes to raising balanced and happy children.

However, a new study, carried out by Psychologists at Washington University’s school of medicine, found that punishing kids is far more effective than other more modern parenting techniques, such as offering rewards.

For their part, the researchers claim that the study they carried out seems to prove that responses to punishments are hardwired to the brain. As the lead author of the study, Dr. Jan Kubanek, explained to the reporters.

“Regarding teaching strategies, our study suggests that negative feedback may be more effective than positive feedback at modifying behaviour. Our study showed that such feedback does not have to be harsh, since it appears that we tend to react in the same manner to any amount of negative feedback. From an evolutionary perspective, people tend to avoid punishments or dangerous situations. Rewards, on the other hand, have less of a life-threatening impact.”

At the same time, the study, which was published in the journal Cognition, found that when the participants in the groups under observation were given a reward, they tend to repeat the previous choice, and that grew stronger as the award increased.

Then again, those participants who received some kind of penalty or punishment were less likely to make the same choice again.

As Dr. Kubanek added, “Objectively, you’d think that winning 25 cents would have the same magnitude of effect as losing 25 cents, but that’s not what we find.”

Another professor involved in the study, Richard Abrams, a psychologist at Washington University, added, “The question of how rewards and punishments influence behaviour has occupied psychologists for over 100 years. The difficulty has been devising effective tasks to probe that question. We used a simple approach that reveals dramatic differences in the way people respond to different types of feedback.”

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