When Boys Are More Generous Than Girls: Effects of Gender and Coordination Level on Prosocial Behavior in 4-year-old Chinese Children

AbstractChildren develop a sense of joint commitment and shared intentionality during collaborative activities, which may produce prosocial effects in social coordinative activities. Past studies have found mixed results on the prosocial effect of shared intentionality. We hypothesized that it is the degree of coordination and not simply shared intentionality that facilitates social bonding. In a block-assembly task with 4-year-old children, we manipulated degree of coordination. Children in the continuous high-level coordination condition were more generous in a Dictator Game and more willing to help their partner complete a task, compared with children who engaged in a task with the same end-product that required less coordination. Surprisingly, we also found that boys shared more resources than girls, a result that we attributed to the emphasis on the importance of generosity for males in Chinese culture.

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