How can I help? Developmental change in the selectivity of two to four-year-olds' attempts to alleviate others' distress

AbstractYoung children are selective in deciding whom to help (i.e., they preferentially assist and share resources with prosocial versus antisocial others; Hamlin, Wynn, Bloom, & Mahajan, 2011; Vaish, Carpenter, & Tomasello, 2010) but are they also selective in deciding how to offer help? Here we show two to five-year-olds (N = 32; mean: 42.41 months; range 27-68 months) characters who are distressed for different reasons: they are hurt, bored, or sad. Children of all ages tried to help the agent but the selectivity of children’s responses varied with age and condition; in particular, children’s responses to boredom and sadness became increasingly differentiated with age.

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