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Young Children Are Intrinsically Motivated to See Others Helped


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Young children help other people, but it is not clear why. In the current study, we found that 2-year-old children's sympathetic arousal, as measured by relative changes in pupil dilation, is similar when they themselves help a person and when they see that person being helped by a third party (and sympathetic arousal in both cases is different from that when the person is not being helped at all). These results demonstrate that the intrinsic motivation for young children's helping behavior does not require that they perform the behavior themselves and thus "get credit" for it, but rather requires only that the other person be helped. Thus, from an early age, humans seem to have genuine concern for the welfare of others.
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Psychological Science
23(9) 967 –972
© The Author(s) 2012
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DOI: 10.1177/0956797612440571
Soon after their first birthdays, human infants begin helping
other people. Infants as young as 12 months of age point at an
object to help an adult find it (Liszkowski, Carpenter, Striano,
& Tomasello, 2006). By 18 months, infants show concern for
and attempt to comfort individuals who are hurt (Eisenberg &
Miller, 1987; Vaish, Carpenter, & Tomasello, 2009; Zahn-
Waxler, Radke-Yarrow, Wagner, & Chapman, 1992), and
they help other people achieve their goals by fetching out-of-
reach objects or removing obstacles for them (Warneken &
Tomasello, 2006). Over the course of the 2nd year of life, chil-
dren’s helping behavior develops to include sharing even
at some cost to themselves (Brownell, Svetlova, & Nichols,
2009; Svetlova, Nichols, & Brownell, 2010; see also
Dunfield, O’Connell, Kuhlmeier, & Kelley, 2011; Warneken
& Tomasello, 2009). Very young children thus demonstrate
remarkable prosocial propensities, but it is not clear precisely
what motivates them.
In one study, Warneken and Tomasello (2008) found that
20-month-old children who had previously received material
rewards for helping were subsequently less likely to engage in
further helping as compared with children who had received
no such reward. This surprising finding suggests that infants’
helping behavior is intrinsically motivated and is thus under-
mined by an extrinsic material reward (the overjustification
effect; Lepper, Greene, & Nisbett, 1973). Although Warneken
and Tomasello’s study indicates that infants’ motivation to
help other people is intrinsic rather than driven by material
rewards, nothing is currently known about the nature of this
intrinsic motivation. It is possible, for example, that humans,
even as young children, help others because the receivers
or observers of these acts give the helper credit and subse-
quently reciprocate (Nowak & Sigmund, 1998; Rockenbach &
Milinski, 2006; Trivers, 1971). Thus, help may be motivated
because providing help directly or indirectly benefits the helper.
Note that for this interpretation to hold, the child must perform
the helping act personally so as to gain the credit for him- or
herself. An alternative possibility is that the helpful behavior is
motivated by genuine concern for the person in need. Under this
interpretation, it does not matter whether the child performs the
helping act personally or simply sees another person perform it;
what matters is that the person in need is helped.
The challenge is how to test which of these alternatives is
correct. An assessment of children’s outward behavior, which
has thus far been the primary means for examining prosocial
behavior, does not allow researchers to distinguish between
distinct underlying motives. We thus addressed this question
using a novel methodology to measure children’s internal state
during a helping task; specifically, we measured children’s
pupil dilation as an indicator of their level of sympathetic
arousal (and its reduction).
Changes in pupil dilation reflect changes in the activity
of the sympathetic nervous system (Loewenfeld, 1993;
Lowenstein, Feinberg, & Loewenfeld, 1963; Wilhelm, 1991).
Corresponding Author:
Robert Hepach, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology,
Deutscher Platz 6, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
Young Children Are Intrinsically Motivated
to See Others Helped
Robert Hepach, Amrisha Vaish, and Michael Tomasello
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
Young children help other people, but it is not clear why. In the current study, we found that 2-year-old children’s sympathetic
arousal, as measured by relative changes in pupil dilation, is similar when they themselves help a person and when they see
that person being helped by a third party (and sympathetic arousal in both cases is different from that when the person is
not being helped at all). These results demonstrate that the intrinsic motivation for young children’s helping behavior does
not require that they perform the behavior themselves and thus “get credit” for it, but rather requires only that the other
person be helped. Thus, from an early age, humans seem to have genuine concern for the welfare of others.
intrinsic motivation, children’s helping behavior, pupil dilation, motivation, social behavior, social cognition
Received 8/1/11; Revision accepted 2/1/12
Research Report
968 Hepach et al.
This system becomes aroused in situations, either positive or
negative, requiring the organism’s attention (e.g., Levenson,
2003). In humans, pupil dilation increases in anticipation of
and following emotionally arousing events (Bradley, Miccoli,
Escrig, & Lang, 2008; Nunnally, Knott, Duchnowski, &
Parker, 1967; Partala & Surakka, 2003). Even infants younger
than 1 year of age show increased pupil dilation in response to
viewing representations of impossible physical events (Jack-
son & Sirois, 2009) or unusual social interactions (Gredebäck
& Melinder, 2010).
We reasoned that the sight of someone in need of help
might induce sympathetic arousal in young children, and we
asked whether this arousal would be reduced only if children
themselves provided help (i.e., could receive credit), or
whether it would also be reduced if children could not them-
selves help but saw another individual help (i.e., they could
not receive credit but simply saw the other person’s need
Participants were 2-year-old children (median age = 2 years 29
days, age span from youngest to oldest = 1 month 25 days). A
total of 36 children (18 males, 18 females) participated in the
study and were included in the final analyses. Additional chil-
dren were tested but excluded from the final sample because
of fussiness (n = 8) and either technical failure or experimenter
or parent error (n = 4); also, 1 child could not be separated
from her toy and hence did not have her hands free to help.
We used a “house” apparatus (2 m wide × 2.15 m high × 0.65
m deep) that had a window (68 × 47 cm; 81 cm above the
ground) through which participants could look inside once the
curtain was opened (see Fig. 1). Below the window was a
small slit with an external eye-tracking unit (Tobii model
X120; Tobii Technology, Stockholm, Sweden; sampling fre-
quency = 60 Hz) for measuring participants’ pupil diameter.
Participants’ eyes were tracked while the stimuli were pre-
sented on a 24-in. computer screen (52 cm × 32 cm) placed in
the window. The vertical distance between the eye-tracking
unit and the center of the computer screen was 38.5 cm.
The stimuli were shown at a monitor resolution of 1920 ×
1080 pixels in the following order: an attention-grabbing ani-
mation (4 s), a gray screen (3 s), and an action stimulus show-
ing an adult performing either an introductory action (21 s;
introductory trial) or one of two test actions (33 s each; test
trials). In the introductory trial, the action stimulus showed the
adult playing a game without needing help. In the test trials,
one of the two actions portrayed him stacking cans to form a
tower. After 28 s, the adult dropped the last can on the ground,
pretending the drop was accidental. In the other test trial, the
adult drew a picture with a crayon, which he dropped after
28 s. In both test trials, the adult was shown reaching for the
object while expressing mild distress (5 s).
Immediately after each action stimulus, a still frame show-
ing colorful bubbles on a colored background (5 s) and an ani-
mated version of that stimulus with music (10 s) were presented
on the screen (neutral stimuli). These same neutral stimuli
were presented a second time at the end of each trial as well,
as described in the Procedure section. The color of the neutral
stimuli was constant within a trial but varied across trials (red,
blue, or purple).
All participants saw three instances of this stimulus
sequence: one introductory trial and two test trials. The order
of the color of the neutral stimuli and the order of the two test
trials were counterbalanced.
Note that the prerecorded videos of the adult showed him
acting inside the house. The actions were filmed such that the
scene was shown as it truly appeared through the window; that
is, the angles were adjusted to match the actual view. The
appearance of the adult in the videos matched his appearance
when he was seen in person.
The procedure was adopted from a previous study showing
that 2-year-olds will take a scene presented on a computer
screen to resemble a real scene if they are made to believe that
they are looking through a window (Troseth & DeLoache,
1998). The study that we present here took on average 45 min,
including a warm-up phase followed by familiarization,
switch, and test phases. In the familiarization phase, the chil-
dren were presented with the house apparatus and could see its
window, the curtain, and the inside of the house.
In the switch phase, the computer monitor, which had been
hidden inside the house apparatus, was moved into the win-
dow for presenting the stimuli.
Fig. 1. House apparatus. While infants viewed video stimuli on a monitor
placed in the window, their eyes were tracked by an eye tracker through a
slit below the window.
Children Want to See Others Helped 969
Calibration of participants’ eyes was carried out before the
beginning of the test phase, once children were seated on their
parent’s lap in front of the window and were looking at the
computer monitor in it. Parents were instructed to shut their
eyes during calibration. After the calibration, the stimuli were
presented on the screen, using Tobii Studio (Version 2.2.4;
Tobii Technology, Stockholm, Sweden).
The children were randomly assigned to one of three experi-
mental conditions: the help condition, no-help condition, and
third-person-help condition. The first trial of the test phase was
always an introductory trial during which the adult in the video
demonstrated putting a toy dolphin to bed. Participants’ pupil
diameter was measured during presentation of the neutral stim-
uli that followed this video (premeasurement). Although parents
were allowed to watch the action stimuli, they were instructed to
shut their eyes during the presentation of the neutral stimuli in
order for the eye-tracking system to not erroneously track par-
ents’ eyes during the crucial measurement phases.
Next, parents carried their children away from the window
and into the house. In the help condition, children were
allowed to move around freely, whereas in the other two con-
ditions, their parents held them back. While the children were
inside the house, they saw the adult from the video sitting
behind a table. After approximately 15 s (the time was kept
equal for all participants), the children were carried back to the
area in front of the window. They were placed so that they
faced the window, the same neutral stimuli as before were pre-
sented, and participants’ pupil diameter was measured again
Next, during the two test trials, children looked at the moni-
tor in the house’s window and watched the video of the adult
reaching for the last can to finish stacking a tower and the
video of the adult reaching for a crayon to finish drawing a
picture (in counterbalanced order). Each video was followed
by the neutral stimuli, during which participants’ pupil diam-
eter was measured (premeasurement). Parents then took their
children inside the house and placed them on the floor approx-
imately 2 m away from the adult, who was reaching for the
object that had been shown in the video.
In the help condition, parents let go of their children and
allowed them to retrieve the object and give it to the adult. Ten
out of 12 children did so on both test trials. When the adult got
the object in his hand, he looked at it, moved backward, and
did not finish or continue the activity of stacking cans or draw-
ing a picture. However, 2 children (1 boy and 1 girl) did not
help on either trial. In those cases, after they had been exposed
to the situation for 15 s, the adult stopped reaching, retreated
his arm, and looked at the object. As soon as the children had
placed the object in the adult’s hand or 15 s had elapsed, their
parents carried them back in front of the window. The same
neutral stimuli as before were shown, and pupil diameter was
measured (postmeasurement). Children who helped did so on
average after approximately 6 s (M = 5.72 s, SD = 2.25 s) on
the first trial and after approximately 4 s (M = 4.25 s, SD =
0.98 s) on the second trial.
In the no-help condition, children were carried to the same
spot inside the house as in the help condition, but their parents
held them back from helping the adult, and therefore the chil-
dren did not get to help. The period of exposure was yoked to
the average time children in the help condition had waited
before helping the adult on each test trial. After approximately
6 s on the first test trial and approximately 4 s on the second
test trial, the adult stopped reaching and returned to the same
posture he did in the help condition when children did not
help. Parents then carried their children back to the area in
front of the window. The same neutral stimuli as before were
shown, and pupil diameter was measured (postmeasurement).
The third-person-help condition was nearly identical to the
no-help condition, with the only important difference being
that a second experimenter picked up the object for the adult
when children in the help condition would have picked it up,
namely, after approximately 6 s on the first test trial and after
approximately 4 s on the second test trial. When the adult got
the object in his hand, he looked at it, moved backward, and did
not finish or continue the activity of stacking cans or drawing a
picture. Parents then carried their children back to the area in
front of the window. The same neutral stimuli as before were
shown, and pupil diameter was measured (postmeasurement).
For data analysis, we used only those measurements of par-
ticipants’ pupil diameter that were taken while participants
watched the neutral stimuli just before and after they were
exposed to the respective helping situations. We analyzed mea-
surements from the first 10 s of those stimuli and computed the
relative increase in pupil dilation (postmeasurement minus pre-
measurement, divided by premeasurement) for each subject per
trial. As in other studies using pupil dilation as a dependent
measure (e.g., Gredebäck & Melinder, 2010; Jackson & Sirois,
2009), the lighting conditions1 were the same for all partici-
pants, and pupil data for both right eye and left eye were initially
filtered, interpolated, and averaged (for details, see the Supple-
mental Material available online). The dependent variable was
the difference in pupil diameter relative to the premeasurement
diameter (i.e., change in pupil dilation); thus, a value of 1 would
indicate that pupil diameter during the postmeasurement was
twice pupil diameter during the premeasurement.
A one-way analysis of variance was computed, with condition
(help, no help, or third-person help) as a between-subjects fac-
tor.2 This analysis revealed a significant effect of condition,
F(2, 33) = 5.28, p = .01, adjusted η2 = .2. Residuals did not
differ significantly across conditions (p = .48). Results showed
that the average relative increase in pupil dilation was signifi-
cantly higher in the no-help condition (M = 0.11, SD = 0.07)
than in either the help condition (M = 0.04, SD = 0.07), t(22) =
2.47, p = .02, or the third-person-help condition (M = 0.04,
SD = 0.05), t(22) = 3.08, p = .006 (see Fig. 2). Increase in pupil
dilation did not differ between the help condition and the
third-person-help condition, t(22) = 0.21, p = .83.3
970 Hepach et al.
Separate analyses showed that the condition effect per-
sisted when we controlled for time across the 10-s postmea-
surement interval (for details, see the Supplemental Material).
Because 2 participants in the help condition did not help on
either test trial, we tested 2 additional participants who did
help on both test trials. Analyses conducted after including
these 2 new children did not change the overall results (see the
Supplemental Material).
Figure 3 illustrates the time course of the relative change in
pupil dilation across the 10-s postmeasurement interval in
each condition. Children in the no-help condition clearly con-
tinued to show increased levels of sympathetic arousal follow-
ing the live situation, whereas participants in the help and
third-person-help conditions showed lowered arousal levels,
presumably because the adult was helped.
Previous studies of helping by humans—regardless of whether
children or adults—have not specifically examined whether
individuals were motivated to provide help themselves or sim-
ply to make sure that help was provided. In addition, previous
studies on children’s helping have relied on observations
of external behavior only. In the current study, using a physi-
ological measure, we found that the motivation for young
Relative Change in Pupil Dilation
Help No Help
Third-Person Help
Fig. 2. B ox-and-whisker plots of the mean relative change (from pre-
measurement to postmeasurement) in participants’ pupil dilation as a
function of condition (help, no help, third-person help). The boxes indicate
the distribution of values lying between the f irst and fourth quar tiles
—essentially 50% of all values in a group. The solid lines inside the boxes
represent the group medians. The dashed lines with the whiskers at their
respective end points capture the location of extreme values, but do not
capture outliers that exceeded the interquartile distance (from one end of
the box to the other) by more than 1.5.
Time (s)
Relative Change in Pupil Dilation
Help Condition
No-Help Condition
Third-Person-Help Condition
Fig. 3. Time course of the mean relative change (from premeasurement to postmeasurement) in par ticipants’ pupil
dilation in the three conditions (help, no help, and third-person help). The values plotted represent the means across
all subjects for each group across the 10-s interval for which the analyses were conducted. The number of values
contributing to each mean varied with time because the moderate interpolation algorithm linearly approximated
missing data only for time g aps not exceeding approximately 70 ms. This variation may explain sudden drops and
increases in the graph. For illustration purposes, data were smoothed using a moving average filter.
Children Want to See Others Helped 971
children’s helping behavior is simply that the person in need
should be helped. Our findings demonstrate that young chil-
dren do not provide help primarily for the sake of their own
reputation, because if they did, they would have preferred to
perform the helping act themselves (to get credit), and sympa-
thetic arousal would have remained high in the third-person-
help condition. Our results thus provide physiological support
for the hypothesis that young children help other people
because of genuine sympathy for their plight (e.g., Eisenberg
& Miller, 1987; Vaish et al., 2009; Zahn-Waxler et al., 1992).
Although our application of the pupil-dilation measure is
novel, its interpretation is not. As a well-established research
measure (for a review, see Goldwater, 1972), it has recently
been employed to study infants’ responses to impossible or
unusual situations (Gredebäck & Melinder, 2010; Jackson &
Sirois, 2009). At the most basic level, changes in pupil dilation
reflect changes in sympathetic activity (Loewenfeld, 1993;
Lowenstein et al., 1963; Wilhelm, 1991), and our results can
be interpreted as indicating higher levels of sympathetic
arousal in children in the no-help condition than in children in
either of the other two conditions after their return from their
respective helping situations. Such changes in tonic pupil
diameter over multiple seconds are more likely to reflect
arousal state rather than phasic, rapid changes that occur in
response to immediate task demands (Granholm & Steinhauer,
2004; for an example, see Kahneman & Beatty, 1966).
It is important to note that pupil dilation increases with
experienced and perceived arousal rather than in response to
positive or negative valence (Bradley et al., 2008; Partala &
Surakka, 2003). Thus, differences between the no-help condi-
tion, on the one hand, and the help and third-person-help con-
ditions, on the other, are most likely not a consequence of the
possible negativity associated with viewing unresolved situa-
tions (as in the no-help condition) or the possible positivity
associated with viewing resolved situations (as in the help and
third-person-help conditions). All in all, then, the most plau-
sible interpretation of our results is that young children are
aroused when they see other people in need and are motivated
to see them helped.
One alternative interpretation of our results could be that
the children were intrinsically motivated not to see other peo-
ple helped per se, but rather to see a causal sequence com-
pleted. According to such an account, the children in our study,
and in fact in all previous studies on early instrumental helping
(e.g., Warneken & Tomasello, 2006), may have viewed the
situation not as a person needing help but rather as the per-
son’s goal-directed action being incomplete (for a discussion
of children’s responsiveness to different levels of other peo-
ple’s goal-directed behavior, see Tomasello, Carpenter, Call,
Behne, & Moll, 2005). But other studies (e.g., Vaish et al.,
2009) have shown that 18- and 25-month-olds are more likely
to help people for whom they feel sympathetic concern than
people for whom they do not. This finding is not consistent
with a strictly causal interpretation, according to which chil-
dren should want resolution of every incomplete causal
sequence equally, regardless of whether they have sympathy
for the actor. In general, the methodology used in our study
has the potential, we believe, to offer insights into this and
similar issues by, for example, enabling the measurement of
reductions in children’s arousal as they view different situa-
tions of other people in need and different ways of resolving
that need.
The children in our study wanted the other person to get
help, regardless of whether they themselves provided it. This
suggests that young children are not motivated primarily to get
credit for their helpful acts. Once children have become more
socialized into their specific social groups, as in kindergarten,
they may be more likely to help and to cooperate in order to
conform to the majority of the group or to established social
norms that foster cooperation and sanction noncooperators
(Gächter, Renner, & Sefton, 2008; Henrich et al., 2006).
Therefore, children’s concerns for self-reputation will gradu-
ally develop as they encounter new people and learn the social
norms of their cultural group, especially during middle child-
hood. However, although concerns regarding self-reputation
may mediate human cooperative behavior later in develop-
ment, our findings suggest that they do not account for its
emergence. Young children’s early helping is motivated by a
genuine concern for the welfare of the person in need.
We thank all the children and parents for participating in this study;
Jana Jurkat for helping run the study; Malinda Carpenter and the
Minerva Research Group on Social Origins of Cultural Cognition for
providing the Tobii eye-tracking system; Anja Gampe for discussing
the procedure; Tobias Grossmann for discussing the research; Roger
Mundry for helping with R and statistics and for commenting on an
earlier version of the article; Henrik Röthel for building the house
apparatus; Ronny Barr for helping with preparing the stimuli; Sandra
Lipke for helping record the stimuli; and Robert Schettler, Vladislava
Nadova, Waldemar Beser, and Petra Jahn for providing hardware and
software support.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The authors declared that they had no conflicts of interest with
respect to their authorship or the publication of this article.
This research was partially supported by a grant (Excellence Cluster
302: Languages of Emotions) from the Deutsche Forschungsgemein-
schaft (DFG; German Research Foundation).
Supplemental Material
Additional supporting information may be found at http://pss.sagepub
1. Detailed information about the procedure, the data analysis, and
how luminance levels were controlled is provided in the Supplemental
Material available online.
972 Hepach et al.
2. We averaged the values of the two test trials for each individual
because there was no significant effect of test-trial order and no inter-
action between condition and test-trial order; for details, see the
Supplemental Material.
3. All t tests were two tailed.
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chology, 28, 126–136.
... We included an owngoal context primarily as a comparison condition to the novel help context, as children have already been found to express negative emotions when they fail to achieve their own goals [e.g., after they fail to complete their own tower or puzzle for themselves; [26][27][28][29][30]. In addition, previous studies have shown that 2-year-old children express less emotional arousal when they see an action remains unfulfilled (in response to a scene that needs to be "cleaned up") compared to a scene in which someone's need remains unfulfilled [43,44]. Therefore, we predicted that children would express a more negative emotion after failing to help others, because the helpee's need is still unfulfilled, than in response to a failure to complete their own goal. ...
... Future work could, for instance, vary if children merely witness a failed attempt to help or themselves fail to help someone and measure children's body posture thereafter. While the former context should cause sadness or sympathy with the person whose goal remained unfulfilled [43,44,57], the latter context should cause shame-or guilt-like emotion, because children are directly responsible for someone else's negative outcome [see 22 for a similar study]. Perceived causal responsibility for harm to others has been argued to be a critical antecedent to the elicitation of shame or guilt [22,62]. ...
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Self-conscious emotions, such as guilt and shame, motivate the adherence to social norms, including to norms for prosociality. The relevance of an observing audience to the expression of negative self-conscious emotions remains poorly understood. Here, in two studies, we investigated the influence of being observed on 4-to 5-year-old children's (N = 161) emotional response after failing to help someone in need and after failing to complete their own goal. As an index of children's emotional response, we recorded the change in children's upper body posture using a motion depth sensor imaging camera. Failing to help others lowered children's upper body posture regardless of whether children were observed by an audience or not. Children's emotional response was similar when they failed to help and when they failed to complete their own goal. In Study 2, 5-year-olds showed a greater decrease in upper body posture than 4-year-olds. Our findings suggest that being observed is not a necessary condition for young children to express a negative self-conscious emotion after failing to help or after failing to complete their own goal. We conclude that 5-year-olds, more so that 4-year-olds, show negative emotions when they fail to adhere to social norms for prosociality.
... Pupil data were filtered by excluding data that differed from the preceding and subsequent samples' measures by 0.9% (cf. Hepach et al., 2012). Linear interpolation of missing data was applied when the gap between two data points did not exceed four. ...
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Past research found performance differences between monolingual and bilingual children in the domain of executive functions (EF). Furthermore, recent studies have reported advantages in processing efficiency or mental effort in bilingual adults and children. These studies mostly focused on the investigation of “cold” EF tasks. Studies including measures of “hot” EF, i.e., tasks operating in an emotionally significant setting, are limited and hence results are inconclusive. In the present study, we extend previous research by investigating performance in a task of the “hot” EF domain by both behavioral data and mental effort via pupillary changes during task performance. Seventy-three monolingual and bilingual school children (mean age = 107.23 months, SD = 10.26) solved the Iowa Gambling Task in two different conditions. In the standard task, characterized by constant gains and occasional losses, children did not learn to improve their decision-making behavior. In a reversed task version, characterized by constant losses and occasional gains, both monolinguals and bilinguals learned to improve their decision-making behavior over the course of the task. In both versions of the task, children switched choices more often after losses than after gains. Bilinguals switched their choices less often than monolinguals in the reversed task, indicating a slightly more mature decision-making strategy. Mental effort did not differ between monolinguals and bilinguals. Conclusions of these findings for the bilingual advantage assumption will be discussed.
... show the tendency of good feeling internally by helping others. Children in their early ages are motivated to help others in need (Hepach et al., 2012) Twenty-two-month old toddlers given edible treats and were asked to give it away to someone else were rated more happy when giving treats away than when receiving treats, regardless of whether the treats belonged to themselves or to an experimenter (Aknin et al., 2015). Neo ...
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Altruism as common sense is taken as a granted behavior, where a person acts costly behavior resulting benefit to others – regardless of self. Human altruism is also defined as an intentional and voluntary act performed to benefit another person as the primary motivation and either without a conscious expectation of reward (altruistic approach) or with the conscious or unconscious expectation of reward (pseudo-altruistic approach). Helping professionals are the people working in the field of social work, nursing and psychological services/psychosocial counseling service Mixed method was used to study the presence of real altruism among the helping professionals. 200 samples were taken 100 from general and 100 from helping professions from Kathmandu and Lalitpur of Nepal, through convenient and purposive sampling. SOLAT for brain dominance and Altruistic Personality Scale for Altruism level were used as measuring tools. Six sample from 2 each helping person were done semi-structure interview for qualitative information. Hemispheric dominance on the helping profession and general population show that general population has more right dominance than that of helping professional. Exploring the relationship between altruism and hemisphericity significant negative correlation was obtained between left hemisphere and altruism though no significant correlation with right hemisphere. The qualitative analysis gave an interpretation that altruism is not he pure tendency as defined as altruistic theories rather it’s a reciprocal behavior. Keywords: altruism, hemisphericity, helping profession, brain.
... Although motivations for prosocial behaviour may be altruistic in infants and young children -for example, 2-year-olds want to see others helped irrespective of who provides the help (Hepach et al., 2012) -as children age, motivations can range from self-oriented (such as to gain rewards or enhance reputation) to other-oriented, where there is a genuine concern for others' welfare (Eisenberg et al., 2016). Research with verbal young children that directly seeks their views would allow researchers to better understand young children's motivations for their prosocial behaviour. ...
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Although there is much interest in the development of prosocial behaviour in young children, and many interventions that attempt to cultivate kindness in children, there is a paucity of research exploring children’s lived experiences of kindness and including their voices. In this study, children’s understanding of kindness is approached through qualitative interviews using puppets. Interviews were conducted with 33 children aged 5-6 years in 3 schools in the United Kingdom. Through thematic analysis, 4 themes were developed: (a) doing things for others, (b) relating with others, (c) rules and values, and (d) kindness affects us. These themes are examined in light of current thinking on prosocial and sociomoral development, and several key insights are highlighted, including types of prosocial behaviour, social connection, kindness-by-omission and defending, in-group bias, universal kindness versus personal safety, self-image, and a desire to improve the condition of society. These findings have implications for future research on prosocial development and for the design of kindness-based interventions, as well as providing an ecologically valid method of inquiry for use with young children.
... In other words, the prosocial concern hypothesis implies that genuinely prosocial motives are already operational in the second year of life. In support of this hypothesis, a line of research utilizing pupil dilation as a marker of a prosocial arousal has shown that toddlers' arousal increased when a third party responded inappropriately to a needy individual, and their arousal decreased both when toddlers provided help themselves and when a third party alleviated the need (Hepach et al., 2012(Hepach et al., , 2016. Similarly, in an eye-tracking study Köster and colleagues (2016) demonstrated that 9-to 18-month-olds expect the helper to help a needy individual, and not a second individual who has also initiated a goal-directed action but is not needy. ...
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A considerable body of research has documented the emergence of what appears to be instrumental helping behavior in early childhood. The current study tested the hypothesis that one basic psychological mechanism motivating this behavior is a preference for completing unfinished actions. To test this, a paradigm was implemented in which 2‐year‐olds (n = 34, 16 females/18 males, mostly White middle‐class children) could continue an adult's action when the adult no longer wanted to complete the action. The results showed that children continued the adult's actions more often when the goal had been abandoned than when it had been reached (OR = 2.37). This supports the hypothesis that apparent helping behavior in 2‐year‐olds is motivated by a preference for completing unfinished actions.
... Toddlers (18-to 24-month-olds) show sympathy to an individual whose balloon had been popped by a "mean" experimenter by sharing one of their own balloons (Vaish et al., 2010). Using a pupil dilation measure, Hepach et al. (2012) reported that children showed arousal when they observed another person in need of help and relief when the other was helped, regardless of whether they or another person provided help. During the preschool years, children shift away from providing the distressed other with items that they themselves value (e.g., giving their teddy) to responses that focus on the items that would more appropriately address the other's distress (Eisenberg et al., 2015). ...
Prosociality is essential for the success of human societies. Children’s prosocial development is found to increase in contexts that foster collaboration or emotion perspective taking and is negatively affected by exposure to extreme psychosocial trauma and adversity. Based on these findings, we assessed the effect of collaboration and emotion perspective taking on three types of prosocial behavior—helping, sharing, and comforting—in Rohingya children living in a refugee settlement in India (N = 122; age range = 4–11 years). Half of the children were born in Myanmar (i.e., experienced forced migration from genocide), and half were born in the refugee settlement after their families left Myanmar. We also included a small sample of Rohingya Canadian children (N = 20; age range = 3–12 years) as a within-culture comparison of overall levels of prosocial responding, which were higher in this group relative to children in a refugee settlement. We assigned children in the refugee settlement to one of three conditions—Collaboration, Emotion Perspective Taking (intervention conditions), or Drawing (control condition)—and assessed the three types of prosocial responding following the intervention. Prosocial responding was highest after Collaboration for children born in the refugee settlement and was highest after Emotion Perspective Taking for children born in Myanmar. Overall, these findings point to the potential prosocial benefit in refugee contexts for intervention programs that are responsive to children’s lived experience.
... During infancy, children prefer agents that provide help rather than harm (Hamlin et al., 2007). From 2 years of age toddlers show the physiological manifestations of relief when they see someone receiving help, even when they are not directly involved (Hepach et al., 2012), and an affective benefit of their own generosity (Aknin et al., 2012). Finally, from 3-to 6-years-of-age children's generosity increases with their understanding of the affective benefits of sharing (Paulus and Moore, 2017). ...
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One of the most remarkable features of human societies is our ability to cooperate with each other. However, the benefits of cooperation are not extended to everyone. Indeed, another hallmark of human societies is a division between us and them. Favoritism toward members of our group can result in a loss of empathy and greater tolerance of harm toward those outside our group. The current study sought to investigate how in-group bias impacts the developmental emergence of concerns for fairness and care. We investigated the impact of in-group bias on decisions related to care and fairness in children (N = 95; ages 4–9). Participants made decisions about how to allocate resources between themselves and a peer who was either an in-group or out-group member. In decisions related to care, participants were given two trial types on which they could decide whether to give or throw away a positive or negative resource. In decisions related to fairness participants and peer partners each received one candy and participants decided whether to allocate or throw away an extra candy. If the extra candy was distributed it would place either the participant or their recipient at a relative advantage, whereas if the extra candy was thrown away the distribution would be equal. We found that on fairness trials children’s tendency to allocate resources was similar toward in-group and out-group recipients. Furthermore, children’s tendency to allocate resources changed with age such that younger participants were more likely to allocate extra candies to themselves, whereas older participants were more likely to allocate extra candies to their recipient. On trials related to care we did observe evidence of in-group bias. While distribution of positive resources was greater than negative resources for both in-group and out-group recipients, participants distributed negative resources to out-group recipients more often compared to in-group recipients, a tendency that was heightened for young boys. This pattern of results suggests that fairness and care develop along distinct pathways with independent motivational supports.
Over the past decade, noninvasive, restraint-free eye-tracking research with primates has transformed our understanding of primate social cognition. The use of this technology with many primate species allows for the exploration and comparison of how these species attend to and understand social agents and interactions. The ability to compare and contrast the cognitive capacities of various primate species, including humans, provides insight into the evolutionary mechanisms and selective pressures that have likely shaped social cognition in similar and divergent ways across the primate order. In this review, we begin by discussing noninvasive behavioral methods used to measure primate gaze and attention before the introduction of noninvasive, restraint-free eye-tracking methodologies. Next, we focus on findings from recent eye-tracking research on primate social cognition, beginning with simple visual and search mechanisms. We then discuss the results that have built on this basic understanding of how primates view images and videos, exploring discrimination and knowledge of social agents, following social cues, tracking perspectives and predicting behavior, and the combination of eye-tracking and other behavioral and physiological methods. Finally, we discuss some future directions of noninvasive eye-tracking research on primate social cognition and current eye-tracking work-in-progress that builds on these previous studies, investigating underexplored socio-cognitive capacities and utilizing new methodologies.
To successfully navigate their social world, humans need to understand and map enduring relationships between people: Humans need a concept of social affiliation. Here I propose that the initial concept of social affiliation, available in infancy, is based on the extent to which one individual consistently takes on the goals and needs of another. This proposal grounds affiliation in intuitive psychology, as formalized in the naive-utility-calculus model. A concept of affiliation based on interpersonal utility adoption can account for findings from studies of infants' reasoning about imitation, similarity, helpful and fair individuals, "ritual" behaviors, and social groups without the need for additional innate mechanisms such as a coalitional psychology, moral sense, or general preference for similar others. I identify further tests of this proposal and also discuss how it is likely to be relevant to social reasoning and learning across the life span.
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We investigated children's positive emotions as an indicator of their underlying prosocial motivation. In Study 1, 2‐ and 5‐year‐old children (N = 64) could either help an individual or watch as another person provided help. Following the helping event and using depth sensor imaging, we measured children's positive emotions through changes in postural elevation. For 2‐year‐olds, helping the individual and watching another person help was equally rewarding; 5‐year‐olds showed greater postural elevation after actively helping. In Study 2, 5‐year‐olds’ (N = 59) positive emotions following helping were greater when an audience was watching. Together, these results suggest that 2‐year‐old children have an intrinsic concern that individuals be helped whereas 5‐year‐old children have an additional, strategic motivation to improve their reputation by helping. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
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Conducted a field experiment with 3-5 yr old nursery school children to test the "overjustification" hypothesis suggested by self-perception theory (i.e., intrinsic interest in an activity may be decreased by inducing him to engage in that activity as an explicit means to some extrinsic goal). 51 Ss who showed intrinsic interest in a target activity during baseline observations were exposed to 1 of 3 conditions: in the expected-award condition, Ss agreed to engage in the target activity in order to obtain an extrinsic reward; in the unexpected-award condition, Ss had no knowledge of the reward until after they had finished with the activity; and in the no-award condition, Ss neither expected nor received the reward. Results support the prediction that Ss in the expected-award condition would show less subsequent intrinsic interest in the target activity than Ss in the other 2 conditions. (25 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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We propose that the crucial difference between human cognition and that of other species is the ability to participate with others in collaborative activities with shared goals and intentions: shared intentionality. Participation in such activities requires not only especially powerful forms of intention reading and cultural learning, but also a unique motivation to share psychological states with others and unique forms of cognitive representation for doing so. The result of participating in these activities is species-unique forms of cultural cognition and evolution, enabling everything from the creation and use of linguistic symbols to the construction of social norms and individual beliefs to the establishment of social institutions. In support of this proposal we argue and present evidence that great apes (and some children with autism) understand the basics of intentional action, but they still do not participate in activities involving joint intentions and attention (shared intentionality). Human children's skills of shared intentionality develop gradually during the first 14 months of life as two ontogenetic pathways intertwine: (1) the general ape line of understanding others as animate, goal-directed, and intentional agents; and (2) a species-unique motivation to share emotions, experience, and activities with other persons. The developmental outcome is children's ability to construct dialogic cognitive representations, which enable them to participate in earnest in the collectivity that is human cognition.
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A model is presented to account for the natural selection of what is termed reciprocally altruistic behavior. The model shows how selection can operate against the cheater (non-reciprocator) in the system. Three instances of altruistic behavior are discussed, the evolution of which the model can explain: (1) behavior involved in cleaning symbioses; (2) warning cries in birds; and (3) human reciprocal altruism. Regarding human reciprocal altruism, it is shown that the details of the psychological system that regulates this altruism can be explained by the model. Specifically, friendship, dislike, moralistic aggression, gratitude, sympathy, trust, suspicion, trustworthiness, aspects of guilt, and some forms of dishonesty and hypocrisy can be explained as important adaptations to regulate the altruistic system. Each individual human is seen as possessing altruistic and cheating tendencies, the expression of which is sensitive to developmental variables that were selected to set the tendencies at a balance ap...
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) plays a critical role in emotion, providing metabolic support for adaptive action, generating appearance changes with high signal value for conspecifics, and producing visceral sensations that shape subjective emotional experience. In this chapter, I consider several of the most important ways that the ANS is involved in emotion, including: (a) peripheral activation of emotion; (b) autonomic influences on emotional language and the labeling of subjective emotional experience; (c) positive emotion and autonomic soothing; (d) expressive signs of autonomic origin; (e) autonomic substrates of emotional contagion and empathy; and (f) autonomic consequences of emotion regulation. For each, I describe relevant research from our laboratory and discuss implications for an evolutionary account of emotion. In these and many other ways the autonomic architecture of human emotion has evolved not only to move blood and tears in the service of fears, but also to provide us with a rich set of tools that help us communicate and signal the nature of our internal emotional experiences, understand the emotions of others, calm ourselves and others, and give us some modicum of control over harmful and unproductive emotions.
Classically, infants are thought to point for 2 main reasons: (a) They point impera-tively when they want an adult to do something for them (e. g., give them something; "Juice!"), and (b) they point declaratively when they want an adult to share attention with them to some interesting event or object ("Look!"). Here we demonstrate the ex-istence of another motive for infants'early pointing gestures: to inform another per-son of the location of an object that person is searching for. This informative motive for pointing suggests that from very early in ontogeny humans conceive of others as intentional agents with informational states and they have the motivation to provide such information communicatively.
Investigated the development of prosocial and reparative behaviors by examining children's responses to distresses they caused and those they witnessed in others during the 2nd yr of life. Prosocial behaviors (help, sharing, provision of comfort) emerged between the ages of 1 and 2, increasing in frequency and variety over this time period. These behaviors were linked to expressions of concern as well as efforts to understand and experience the other's plight. Children's reparative behaviors after they had caused distress also increased with age. Age changes in these early signs of moral development were accompanied by social–cognitive changes in self-recognition. In assessments at age 2, children were most responsive to distress in their mothers but also showed some sensitivity toward unfamiliar persons. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)