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EFFECTS OF AGE OF BENEFACTOR, ATTRACTIVENESS OF THE RECIPIENT, AND THE RECIPIENT'S NEED FOR ASSISTANCE ON PROSOCIAL BEHAVIOR IN CHILDREN'S DYADS

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Abstract:

The present study was designed to investigate the effects of age of benefactor, instrumental attractiveness of the prospective recipient, and the recipient's need for assistance on children's prosocial behavior. Children aged 5-6 years, 7-8 years, and 9-10 years were first given an opportunity to share a valuable commodity with either an attractive or an unattractive peer. Moments later, the peer, who was in the next room, appeared to fall from a chair and to have either high or low need for assistance. The only significant result for the sharing index was age of benefactor: Older children shared more of their resources than did their younger counterparts. In contrast, children's helpful responses to the peer's “emergency” were affected only by the peer's apparent need for assistance. Finally, children's sharing and their responses to the emergency were positively correlated with the scores the children obtained on a test of empathic abilities. The implications of these results and the role played by empathy in children's prosocial behavior are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1981.9.2.163

Publication date: January 1, 1981

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