How can I help? Developmental change in the selectivity of two to four-year-olds' attempts to alleviate others' distress
- Regina Ebo, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
- Laura Schulz, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
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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