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Preschoolers affect others' reputations through prosocial gossip

Preschoolers affect others' reputations through prosocial gossip

British Journal of Developmental Psychology 34(3): 447-460

Providing evaluative information to others about absent third parties helps them to identify cooperators and avoid cheaters. Here, we show that 5-year-olds, but not 3-year-olds, reliably engage in such prosocial gossip. In an experimental setting, 5-year-old children spontaneously offered relevant reputational information to guide a peer towards a cooperative partner. Three-year-old children offered such evaluative information only rarely, although they still showed a willingness to inform in a non-evaluative manner. A follow-up study revealed that one component involved in this age difference is children's developing ability to provide justifications. The current results extend previous work on young children's tendency to manage their own reputation by showing that preschoolers also influence others' reputations via gossip.

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Accession: 058609911

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 27125334

DOI: 10.1111/bjdp.12143

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