The early emergence of guilt-motivated prosocial behavior
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Guilt serves vital prosocial functions: It motivates transgressors to make amends, thus restoring damaged relationships. Previous developmental research on guilt has not clearly distinguished it from sympathy for a victim or a tendency to repair damage in general. The authors tested 2- and 3-year-old children (N = 62 and 64, respectively) in a 2 × 2 design, varying whether or not a mishap caused harm to someone and whether children themselves caused that mishap. Three-year-olds showed greatest reparative behavior when they had caused the mishap and it caused harm, thus showing a specific effect of guilt. Two-year-olds repaired more whenever harm was caused, no matter by whom, thus showing only an effect of sympathy. Guilt as a distinct motivator of prosocial behavior thus emerges by at least 3 years.
Vaish , A , Carpenter , M & Tomasello , M 2016 , ' The early emergence of guilt-motivated prosocial behavior ' Child Development , vol. 87 , no. 6 , pp. 1772-1782 . https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12628
© 2016 The Authors. Child Development © 2016 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. This work is made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving. The final published version of this work is available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12628
DescriptionAmrisha Vaish was supported by a Dilthey Fellowship from the Volkswagen and Fritz Thyssen Foundations.
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