Preschoolers affect others' reputations through prosocial gossip.
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.
Engelmann, JM; Herrmann, E; Tomasello, M
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)