Improving Behaviors Through Movies, Pizza , and Peers
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
WALTERS, L.. J. (2001). Improving Behaviors Through Movies, Pizza , and Peers. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 4. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved June 29, 2017 .

Improving Behaviors Through Movies, Pizza , and Peers
L .J. WALTERS
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
ABSTRACT
In todayís society, behaviors do affect values and attitudes. Cognitive dissonance has become a means to adapt in the world today. Society is faced with many conflicting thoughts. Children are bombarded with images of violence and sexuality that do not coincide with many moral beliefs. In defense, they change their values and attitudes to accommodate the images they see all around them. Millar and Millar (1996) studied the effect of values and attitudes on behavior. Millar and Millar found that indirect and direct experiences affect behavior. However, they did state that direct experiences did have more of an effect than indirect experiences. This study also shows a correlation that behavior does impact values and attitudes. A single sample t test was completed to compare the total groups behavioral improvement scores to their base line. A significant difference was found in the groups overall improvement (t (3.11) = .005, p <.05). The mean for the group was significantly different from no change. A significant effect size (r = .545) was found. The mean of overall improvement was 1.99.


INTRODUCTION
Today children are thought to be the reflection of their parents and to some extent it is true. However, we must consider the importance of other influences in a childís life. The average week of a school age child consist of 37.5 hours at school with their peers and if they are bused to and from school add another 10 hours. Then add another 13 hours if they are in one school sport. If the childís parents work there could be another 12.5 hours a week in day care. Then consider that at the end of the childís day they sleep, 56 hours a week. There is only 148 hours in a week and so far the child has spent 72.5 with peers and 56 hours sleeping for a total of 128.5 hours. This leaves 19.5 hours to be spent with their parents. On the average the time with their peers is three folds the time spent with their parents. After considering the amount of time children spend with their peers it is understandable to see the effect peers have on the development of behaviors. When developing this project I had to consider the influences of the adolescents. Then I could implement a method to measure their improvement of behavior.Judy and Nelson (2000) also have shown a correlation between attitudes, values, and behaviors in their research with adolescents and theft. They found that adolescents who had strong peer ties were more likely to steal if it was acceptable within the peer group. However, parents have an indirect influence on the adolescents by stopping the involvement with deviant peers. This suggests that situational factors are a stronger influence on behavior. Behavior, once produced, motivates the formation of attitudes and values. Steelís (1999) study of teen-age sexuality found that although school and family did have an impact on sexuality, the media has a larger impact. Steel stated that although the family tells them what to value, teen-agers learn even more about attitudes from the rich multi-media such as television and magazines. The study stated that teen-ages look for role models that they can relate to and then adjust their behavior accordingly. The media projects images of sexuality and the teen-agers accept this as real life situations. This suggests that the situations have a stronger effect on behavior than values. Festinger (1957) developed the cognitive dissonance theory (as cited by Griffin, 1997). Festinger explained that individuals change their attitudes and values to be consistent with behavior. Dissonance results from behaving inconsistently with values. To eliminate dissonance, individuals must reduce the importance of their current values. Then, they can adopt new values that are consistent with their behaviors. Forty years later researchers still find evidence in support of this theory.Funk and Elliot (1999) focused their study on youths in America and their perceptions of violence. In their study, they found that youths exposed to violence would change their behavior to accommodate violent behavior. In doing so they would change their values to justify their violent behaviors. This is consistent with the cognitive dissonance theory. Millar and Millar (1996) also studied the effect of values and attitudes on behavior. Millar and Millar found that indirect and direct experiences affect behavior. However, they did state that direct experiences did have more of an effect than indirect experiences. This study also shows a correlation that behavior does impact values and attitudes. In todayís society, behaviors, do affect values and attitudes. Cognitive dissonance has become a means to adapt to the world today. Society is faced with many conflicting thoughts. Children are bombarded with images of violence and sexuality that do not coincide with many moral beliefs. In defense they change their values and attitudes to accommodate the images they see all around them. According to Festinger (as cited by Griffin, 1997), to prevent dissonance we should avoid events that challenge our moral values such as television programming and outside influences that may corrupt moral values. Judy and Nelson (2000) also found that parents could help prevent criminal behavior by screening the peers of their children and monitoring their activities


METHOD
Participants The participants were 24 children attending a northwest Missouri alternative school. The ages ranged from 11 though 17 years old. A total of 18 males and six females were available to participate.

Materials The alternative schoolís weekly behavior repots were used to assess the improvement of each child. Pizza and movie passes were used as an incentive to motivate the childrens participation.

ProcedureWritten consent was attained from the administration to perform study. The staff of the alternative school was informed of the experiment and was asked not to influence the childrenís outcome in the process. They were also asked to file the weekly progress reports as they have in the past, reporting the behavior of the current week. The previous four weeks of behavior reports were collected and analyzed for behavioral grade baseline. Permission slips then were given to the children in order to gain consent and inform the parents or guardians of participation. It was explained to the student (verbally) the conditions of the experiment and that permission slips were needed to be eligible to receive the pizza and movie passes. A student who was identified as a behavioral problem and as also having influence among the children was asked to be a confederate of the experiment. During the remaining four weeks behavioral scores were obtained and analyzed.


RESULTS
An independent t test was completed to compare the improvement from the first four-weeks behavioral scores to the following four-weeks of scores of students that had returned permission slips and those who did not. No significant difference in improvement was found between the group that returned the permission and those that did not (t (22)= -.408, >.05). The mean improvement of the group with permission slips was 2.19, (sd = 3.03) while the mean improvement of the group without permission slips was 1.64, (sd = 3.42). A single sample t test was completed to compare the total groups behavioral improvement scores to their base line. A significant difference was found in the groups overall improvement (t (3.11) = .005, p <.05). The mean for the group was significantly different from no change. A significant effect size (r = .545) was found. The mean of overall improvement was 1.99.


DISCUSSION
The results of the childrenís scores support the hypothesis that peers do impact behavioral improvement. However there was no difference of significance between the groups who retuned permission slip and those who did not return the permission slips. Children were encouraged to return their permission slips, which was necessary to receive their rewards, until the final day and still some did not return their slips. There were many difficulties in obtaining the permission for the children, which I cannot interpret. There was an overall improvement in the studentís behavioral reports. Another area I cannot interpret is the fact that the child who obtained the greatest improvement would not return their permission slip, although an active participant in this study. This was common with other students as well. This suggests that there was a factor of history within the study. This study did face some limitations. I had to rely on the facilities cooperation during the study. This was met with some discrepancies among those that had daily influence and interaction with the children. I relied on the weekly progress reports completed by the facilities staff, which was not free from bias.For future applications this study was designed for a select group of behaviorally challenging students. It could be adapted to a greater population in adapting the format of measuring the behavioral grades, possibly by implementing a format with in a public school system. In adapting to a pubic school system it would also be able to increase the sample size and create a longitudinal study for future research. Adolescent behaviors depend on peers. In an environment, as in an education setting, where behavioral misconduct is praised and admired by some peers it is sure to spread. Parents try to instill good behavior habits at home. However, in a school setting, when disruption or defiance is met with approval from peers, bad behavior is reinforced


REFERENCES
Judy, B. & Nelson, E. S. (2000). Relationship between parents, peers, morality, and theft in an adolescent sample. The High School Journal, February/March, 2000Steel J. R. (1999) Teenage sexuality and media practice: Factoring in the influences of family, friends, and school. Journal of Sex Research, 36, 331-342.Millar M. G. & Millar K. U. (1996). The effects of direct and indirect experience on affective and cognitive responses and the attitude-behavior relation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 32, 561-579.Griffin, E. (1997) Cognitive dissonance theory of Leon Festinger. Accessed on February 18,2000 from the World Wide Web: http://www.afirstlook.com/archive/cogdiss.ctm/sourse=archther


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