Young children’s prosocial responses towards peers and adults in two social contexts

Journal article


Ulber, J. and Tomasello, M. 2020. Young children’s prosocial responses towards peers and adults in two social contexts . Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 198. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2020.104888
AuthorsUlber, J. and Tomasello, M.
Abstract

Young children help and share with others, but little is known about the “how” and “who” of this early prosocial behavior. In the current study we compared 2- and 3-year-old children’s (N = 203; 101 girls) prosocial behavior of sharing and helping. We asked whether the process was different: (1) if the social partner was an adult or a same-age peer, and (2) if the child was actively interacting and engaged with the partner or not. The highest prosocial responses were found in bilateral, joint tasks such as sharing the spoils after a collaborative effort or helping a partner finish a mutual activity. Prosocial responses were lower in unilateral, autonomous tasks like assisting another person in opening a locked box or distributing a windfall of resources. Children did not show an overall preference for helping or sharing with adults versus peers, except that they were more likely to support a peer than an adult in an instrumental helping task. Together these findings suggest that toddlers’ early prosocial skills and motivations are more sensitive to how they are engaged with a partner than with who that partner is, implying that children have a non-discriminatory general inclination to benefit others, especially in bilateral interactive scenarios.

KeywordsProsocial behavior; Helping; Sharing; Peers; Interaction; Child psychology
Year2020
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Journal citation198
PublisherElsevier
ISSN0022-0965
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2020.104888
Official URLhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2020.104888
Publication dates
OnlineOct 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted02 May 2020
Deposited03 Jun 2020
Accepted author manuscript
License
Output statusPublished
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/8v9q4/young-children-s-prosocial-responses-towards-peers-and-adults-in-two-social-contexts

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