Variations in Children’s Generosity: Reputation and the Role of Mutual Identification
Fast, Anne A.
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From an early age, humans perform generous acts toward one another. The current studies were designed to test the role of reputation in influencing children’s generosity. Accordingly, in Study 1, we varied whether children could see or be seen by a peer recipient. We found that 6-year-old children were most generous when they and the recipient could see one another (the condition allowing for mutual identification). Interestingly, children were not only less generous when their actions could not be seen by a recipient (when there was no chance to signal a good reputation), but were also less generous when their actions could be seen by a recipient and they were not aware of who that recipient was. In Study 2, we further investigated the influence of mutual identification (conditions with two-sided exchanges) on generosity. We found that even less rich forms of mutual identification, specifically only seeing one another and only talking with one another, also led to increased generosity. Thus, mutual identification may be necessary to motivate children’s generous acts through triggering reputation concerns.
- Psychology