The emergence of contingent reciprocity in young children.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Contingent reciprocity is important in theories of the evolution of human cooperation, but it has been very little studied in ontogeny. We gave 2- and 3-year-old children the opportunity to either help or share with a partner after that partner either had or had not previously helped or shared with the children. Previous helping did not influence children's helping. In contrast, previous sharing by the partner led to greater sharing in 3-year-olds but not in 2-year-olds. These results do not support theories claiming either that reciprocity is fundamental to the origins of children's prosocial behavior or that it is irrelevant. Instead, they support an account in which children's prosocial behavior emerges spontaneously but is later mediated by reciprocity.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Warneken, F; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • October 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 116 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 338 - 350

PubMed ID

  • 23917162

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0457

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-0965

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jecp.2013.06.002


  • eng