Impact of adults' appeals for sharing on the development of altruistic dispositions in children

David G. Perry*, Kay Bussey, Kathryn Freiberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Third- and fourth-grade boys and girls (mean age 7 years, 10 months) were directly instructed to share half their winnings from a bowling game under one of three types of verbal appeal: a power assertive appeal emphasizing punitive consequences for noncompliance, an inductive appeal emphasizing the child's potential contribution to the well being of another person, or a neutral appeal. While they complied with this request, half the children were monitored by television camera; the other half were not. A measure of generalized sharing (noninstructed sharing under anonymous conditions) was then collected. It was predicted that generalized sharing would be greater for children who had heard the inductive appeal than for children who had heard the power assertive appeal and would be greater for children who had shared without television surveillance than for children who had shared under survellance. As predicted, generalized sharing was highest among children who had received the inductive appeal. However, prior surveillance depressed noninstructed sharing only for girls who had received the power assertive appeal. There was one additional and unexpected finding: when children were asked to reinforce themselves for having shared in the instructed sharing phase, boys who had shared in compliance with a power assertive appeal indulged themselves more than children in any other condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-138
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume32
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1981

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