Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Jennifer Stevens

Committee Members

Catherine Forestell

Harvey Langholtz

Amy Rains


Social isolation is a type of punishment used to address misbehavior in individuals, such as children with time-outs and prisoners in solitary confinement. It was thought to be an effective method for teaching good behavior or alleviating tense situations. However, this type of punishment may worsen the punished individual’s aggression depending on the environment of isolation. The current study was divided into two experiments. In the first experiment, participants were isolated in a small (2x2 feet) or large (6x6 feet) space to observe if the space alone affected their aggression. In the second experiment, a frustration-inducing task was given to a new set of participants while in the small or large space to see if that promoted an enhancement of aggressive behaviors compared to the first experiment’s participants. Differences in aggression scores between the small- and large-space conditions with and without a frustration-inducing task were analyzed. For the overall study, it was hypothesized that participants in the small space would have higher aggression scores. Additionally, participants who were in the small-space condition and completed the frustration-inducing task were hypothesized to have the highest average aggression score out of all conditions. Although no statistically significant differences were found, the study furthered our understanding of the overall effectiveness of isolation methods for decreasing misbehavior, with the goal of providing policymakers with guidance regarding the value of utilizing such methods in schools, prisons, and other relevant settings.