The time judgment of delinquent and neglected children



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Previous investigators have linked disorders of socialization to impaired or insufficiently developed temporal conceptualization and temporal perception. Studies have suggested a shorter conceptional time span among children from chaotic social environments. It was suggested in the literature that both temporal conceptualization and temporal judgmental behavior follow an orderly maturational course of development. Alterations of this course of development were suggested as having their roots in the unstable environment of some children. In view of both theoretical and empirical assertions that children with disorders of socialization (both delinquent who engage in active instrumental violation of accepted codes of conduct and neglected children who have undergone a passive state of being acted upon by unacceptable codes of parental conduct) engage in disordered temporal conceptualization, the possibility of disordered temporal judgment and reaction time in these children with histories of delinquent behavior or marked parental neglect should be less accurate and more variable in their judgments of time than non-delinquent and non-neglected children from the same socioeconomic environmental backgrounds, and that social disorders would be accompanied by impaired speed and greater variability of response. Twenty socially healthy subjects, 20 delinquents and 20 neglected children, equated for age, intelligence and socioeconomic level, were required to react to the onset and termination of stimuli, produce and reproduce a series of standard durations and estimate the duration of a series of stimuli by rendering 9-category absolute judgments of signals after comparing their durations with an internal concept of one clock second. Each of the above procedures was carried out with both auditory and visual signals. Both average response measures and intrasubject response variance defining stability or precision of judgment were obtained for each experimental condition. An analysis of the data with regard to the main issue of this study which involved the effects of the social pathologies, delinquency and neglect, upon time judgment and speed of response, indicated a startling absence of significant results due to the population factors. For all methods studied, there were no significant differences due to social factors for the average response measures; delinquent and neglected children did not differ significantly in their average responses from socially healthy children. Variability measures, however, indicated a distinct tendency toward increased variability associated with delinquency and neglect. In addition, this study confirmed the findings of earlier investigators regarding the general effects of stimulus conditions such as sense mode, duration length and onset-termination upon the measures obtained from the four timing behavior procedures used in this study. It should also be noted that inspection of the data revealed no apparent differences between the healthy low socioeconomic children studied in this investigation and middle and high socioeconomic level children studied by others with the same timing behavior procedures. These findings were discussed both in terms of the consequences of disordered temporal judgment and conceptualization as well as in regard to previous work in the area of social pathology and temporal dysfunction. It is felt that this study represents a very small part in the study of the legion of factors contributing to the processes of social disorder. A number of questions were raised by this experiment as well as several suggestions for future investigation. Future research should consider dimensions of perception and judgment other than time in the study of the variability associated with delinquency and neglect. In addition, a broader age range of subjects should be taken into account as well as a careful evaluation of the relationships between temporal conceptualization and temporal judgment.



Time perception, Juvenile delinquents