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"Helping" versus "being a helper": invoking the self to increase helping in young children



"Helping" versus "being a helper": invoking the self to increase helping in young children



Child Development 85(5): 1836-1842



Can a subtle linguistic cue that invokes the self motivate children to help? In two experiments, 3- to 6-year-old children (N = 149) were exposed to the idea of "being a helper" (noun condition) or "helping" (verb condition). Noun wording fosters the perception that a behavior reflects an identity-the kind of person one is. Both when children interacted with an adult who referenced "being a helper" or "helping" () and with a new adult (), children in the noun condition helped significantly more across four tasks than children in the verb condition or a baseline control condition. The results demonstrate that children are motivated to pursue a positive identity. Moreover, this motivation can be leveraged to encourage prosocial behavior.

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Accession: 051003868

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 24779480

DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12244


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