Publication Date

April 2011

Advisor(s)

Anna Shusterman

Major

Neuroscience and Behavior

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

The majority of past research on touch has focused on adults or infants and not on preschool-age children. This study aimed to replicate the robust adult finding that touch increases compliance using a delay-of-gratification task in a sample of 30 preschool-age children (M = 58.9 months). Children were randomly assigned to the intervention or control condition. Children in the intervention condition received a friendly touch on the back before they were instructed on the laboratory task to wait until they received permission from the experimenter to look for or eat a candy. Results showed that touch increased compliance by increasing the amount of time (in seconds) children waited to eat the candy. Children in the touch condition waited 144.53 seconds longer to eat the candy than children in the no touch condition. This finding has implications for how touch could be used to promote positive behavior and increase self-control in young children.

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