When Told “Don’t Look There”: An Eye-tracker Study

By Jana Marie Havigerová and Radek Novotný.

Published by The International Journal of Pedagogy and Curriculum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: September 20, 2016 $US5.00

The ways in which instructions are formulated to pupils often fundamentally affect their reactions. The purpose of this study is to describe the effect of negativity on observable manifestations of students. Respondents (N = 20) were exposed to a set of visual stimuli (sets of four images), which were preceded by the command instruction “look at” or prohibition instruction “do not look at” one of the images. Two control questions then followed, which were related to the presented stimuli. Three research questions were formulated: 1) Is there any difference in the observed variables when a positively and a negatively formulated instruction is read, 2) Can a prohibition be fully respected and the “prohibited zone” not looked into, and 3) Will the instruction valence (positive, negative) affect the success rate of answers to subsequent control questions? Based on the results of the research, it can be concluded that: 1) There is no significant difference in eye tracking when reading positive (command) and negative (prohibition) instruction; 2) It is almost impossible to fully respect commands or prohibitions (both were demonstrably violated), and it is easier to violate a command; 3) Type of instruction (positive/command, negative/prohibition) does not have a significant impact on success in the subsequent attention test. Research has shown that negative instructions have a paradoxical effect; therefore, this study affirms that it is appropriate to avoid this type of instruction and, instead, speak positively.

Keywords: Negativity, Instruction, Eye Tracker, Paradoxical Effect

The International Journal of Pedagogy and Curriculum, Volume 23, Issue 4, December 2016, pp.25-39. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: September 20, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 484.956KB)).

Dr. Jana Marie Havigerová

Lecturer, Department of Primary and Preprimary Education, University of Hradec Králové, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic

Radek Novotný

Student, Department of Pedagogy and Psychology, University of Hradec Králové, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic