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Young Children Selectively Avoid Helping People With Harmful Intentions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Author(s)

Amrisha Vaish, Malinda Carpenter, Michael Tomasello

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Two studies investigated whether young children are selectively prosocial toward others, based on the others' moral behaviors. In Study 1 (N = 54), 3-year-olds watched 1 adult (the actor) harming or helping another adult. Children subsequently helped the harmful actor less often than a third (previously neutral) adult, but helped the helpful and neutral adults equally often. In Study 2 (N = 36), 3-year-olds helped an actor who intended but failed to harm another adult less often than a neutral adult, but helped an accidentally harmful and a neutral adult equally often. Children's prosocial behavior was thus mediated by the intentions behind the actor's moral behavior, irrespective of outcome. Children thus selectively avoid helping those who cause-or even intend to cause-others harm.

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1661-1669
Number of pages9
JournalChild Development
Volume81
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Research areas

  • PROSOCIAL BEHAVIOR, MORAL JUDGMENT, HUMAN ALTRUISM, PUNISHMENT, TRANSGRESSIONS, COOPERATION, RESPONSES, INFANTS, OTHERS

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