Home / Health / Society's tendency to denigrate children today is a "memorial," says cognitive researchers

Society's tendency to denigrate children today is a "memorial," says cognitive researchers

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They are leaders in important social, environmental and political movements and find ways to address the most pressing issues of our time, from climate change to gun violence. One even stood up to the Taliban as a 1

5-year-old and received the Nobel Peace Prize at 17 years.

And yet, as their elders, we roll our eyes, brush aside their generation as a whole, or, perhaps worse, actively diminish them for, yes, they are children.

As it turns out, mumbling about the younger generation is an old practice. That's what UC Santa Barbara psychology scientist John Protzko expresses "the kids these days effect."

"Mankind has made the same complaint against" children these days "for at least 2,600 years," said Protzko, who limited his estimate at 2.6 millennia just because some of the older statements could not be verified. But it is easy to imagine adults from the past shaking their fists at their children and their obvious disdain for the rules – "Youth was never seen again," wrote Minister Thomas Barnes of St. Paul. Margaret's Church in 1624, "… the ancient are mocked, the honored are condemned, the magistrates are not feared."

"It is exactly the same complaint time and again – they are disrespectful, they do not listen to their elders and they don't like to work, "Protzko said, adding that these grips will cut not only generations but also cultures.

It is not as if society has been in an objective decline since 340 BC, Protzko said. Rather, he continued, the older generation's tendency to base their youth is a result of our erroneous memories.

"There is a psychological or mental trick that happens that makes it appear to each generation that the succeeding generations are objectively in decline, even if they are not," said Protzko, whose research appears in the journal Science Advances "And because it is built into how the mind works, every generation experiences it over and over again."

Despite the ubiquitous effect – or perhaps because of it – not much research has been done to investigate To tell about this psychological illusion, Protzko and fellow psychologist Jonathan Schooler prepared a suite of five tests.

"We first looked at how this relates to your own position on a trait," said Protzko. Over three specific traits – respect for authority, intelligence and joy of reading – the participants were asked how high they think today's children would rate compared to the participants themselves as children.

across the board, it was clear that the higher the participants ranked according to these traits, the more likely they were to denigrate the children based on the same trait and to support the researchers' "trait-specific" hypothesis.

"The more you respect authority as an adult, the more you think children no longer respect their elders; the smarter you are, the more you think that children today become dumber, Protzko said." And people who are well-off tend to believe that children today no longer enjoy reading. "

And in terms of intelligence, this is particularly important," Protzko noted, as objective evidence has shown that adolescents perform better on intelligence tests due to Flynn effects ( the measurable increase in IQ scores from one generation to the next.) "So it can't be that the participants bring up objective truth," he said.

So what's behind our misjudgment of the generations that follow ours? Protzko blames on our own erroneous, biased memories.

"We tend to think that our memories are really good for the past," he said, "but they are not." To shed light on the effect of our memory on our atti suggesting to children these days, the researchers replicated the reading study and then added questions about the participants' memories of how much they and their peers liked to read as a child. They also asked for their views on "adults today" and their love for reading.

According to their results, the more well-read you are, the more you think you enjoyed reading as a child and the more you think all children enjoyed reading when you were a child. In turn, it seems to us that children today are objectively deficient.

"Basically, what we do is take our current position on that property and we put it back in time," Protzko explained. Not only that, he said, the opinion is extended to comrades, so people who consider themselves to be well-read as children remember that children in general are so. In addition, the responses indicate that adults enjoy reading as much as they did as children suggest that "participants do not feel a constant generational decline, but instead believe that only unique children today have a shortage."

To further identify the effect of memory as a mediator, the researchers put participants through a final exercise. Participants were tested to see how well they were, but received false feedback.

"We told some of them that they were in the top 33% of the national population or in the bottom 33% of the population," Protzko said. "It turns out that doing so changes how they feel about their own position to be well-meaning." The feedback even went so that the participants revised their memories of the past, so that those who were asked about their views on the children these days and their reading habits not only generalized their performance for the children in the children. previously (eg, children were not particularly read in the past), but also softened their views on children's adopted decline today in terms of reading.

"These things don't necessarily happen consciously," Protzko said of the phenomenon of memory scientists call "presentism." This bias, he added, is so ingrained in our memory systems that it is unlikely that we will ever stop thinking that children today represent a downturn in our society.

"It's a memorial – you take what you currently are and you apply it to your memories," he said, "That's why" the decline "seems so obvious to us. We have some objective evidence of how children were , and absolutely no personal objective evidence. All we have is our memory to trust and the prejudice that comes with it. "

Under time pressure, people tell us what we want to hear

More information:
John Protzko et al. Children today: Why today's youth seems to be missing, Science Advances (2019). DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.aav5916

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University of California – Santa Barbara

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Society's tendency to denigrate children today is a "memorial," says cognitive researchers (2019, October 17)
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