Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

The early emergence of guilt-motivated prosocial behavior

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

DOI

Author(s)

Amrisha Vaish, Malinda Carpenter, Michael Tomasello

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Guilt serves vital prosocial functions: It motivates transgressors to make amends, thus restoring damaged relationships. Previous developmental research on guilt has not clearly distinguished it from sympathy for a victim or a tendency to repair damage in general. The authors tested 2- and 3-year-old children (N = 62 and 64, respectively) in a 2 × 2 design, varying whether or not a mishap caused harm to someone and whether children themselves caused that mishap. Three-year-olds showed greatest reparative behavior when they had caused the mishap and it caused harm, thus showing a specific effect of guilt. Two-year-olds repaired more whenever harm was caused, no matter by whom, thus showing only an effect of sympathy. Guilt as a distinct motivator of prosocial behavior thus emerges by at least 3 years.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1772-1782
Number of pages11
JournalChild Development
Volume87
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 7 Nov 2016

    Research areas

  • Guilt, Prosocial behavior, Sympathy

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Great apes distinguish true from false beliefs in an interactive helping task

    Buttelmann, D., Buttelmann, F., Carpenter, M., Call, J. & Tomasello, M. 5 Apr 2017 In : PLoS One. 12, 4, 13 p., e0173793

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Identifying partially schematic units in the code-mixing of an English and German speaking child

    Endesfelder Quick, A., Lieven, E., Carpenter, M. & Tomasello, M. 7 Mar 2017 In : Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism. In press

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Young children discriminate genuine from fake smiles and expect people displaying genuine smiles to be more prosocial

    Song, R., Over, H. & Carpenter, M. Nov 2016 In : Evolution and Human Behavior. 37, 6, p. 490-501 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. What is a group? Young children's perceptions of different types of groups and group entitativity

    Plötner, M., Over, H., Carpenter, M. & Tomasello, M. 24 Mar 2016 In : PLoS One. 11, 3, e0152001

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. I won't tell: Young children show loyalty to their group by keeping group secrets

    Misch, A., Over, H. & Carpenter, M. Feb 2016 In : Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 142, p. 96-106

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. The development of selective copying: children's learning from an expert versus their mother

    Lucas, A. J., Burdett, E. R. R., Burgess, V., Wood, L. A., McGuigan, N., Harris, P. L. & Whiten, A. 29 Dec 2016 In : Child Development. Early View, 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Imitation, collaboration, and their interaction among Western and Indigenous Australian preschool children

    Nielsen, M., Mushin, I., Tomaselli, K. & Whiten, A. 18 May 2016 In : Child Development. 87, 3, p. 795-806 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Where Culture Takes Hold: "Overimitation" and Its Flexible Deployment in Western, Aboriginal, and Bushmen Children

    Nielsen, M., Mushin, I., Tomaselli, K. & Whiten, A. 1 Nov 2014 In : Child Development. 85, 6, p. 2169-2184 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Learning from their own actions: the unique effect of producing actions on infants’ action understanding

    Gerson, S. & Woodward, A. Feb 2014 In : Child Development. 85, 1, p. 264-277

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 214244841