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Toddlers' intrinsic motivation to return help to their benefactor.

Publication ,  Journal Article
Hepach, R; Vaish, A; Müller, K; Tomasello, M
Published in: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
December 2019

A natural reaction to receiving help from someone is to help that person in return. In two studies, we investigated the developmental origins of children's motivation to return help. In Study 1, 18- and 24-month-old toddlers were either helped or not helped by an adult, and they could subsequently provide that adult with help or else observe another person providing help. We measured children's internal arousal, via changes in pupil dilation, both before and after help was provided. At both ages, children's internal arousal was higher when they could not help the adult who had previously helped them (and was lower when they could). On the other hand, if the adult needing help had not previously helped children, their internal arousal was equally low regardless of whether they or another person provided the help. Study 2 replicated this result and also found that if children had previously been helped but the person needing help was a different adult (not their benefactor), children's internal arousal was equally low regardless of whether they or another person provided the help. Together, these results suggest that young children are intrinsically motivated to return a received favor specifically to the previous benefactor, perhaps indicating a nascent sense of gratitude.

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Published In

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

DOI

EISSN

1096-0457

ISSN

0022-0965

Publication Date

December 2019

Volume

188

Start / End Page

104658

Related Subject Headings

  • Motivation
  • Male
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Infant
  • Humans
  • Helping Behavior
  • Female
  • Experimental Psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Arousal
 

Citation

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Hepach, R., Vaish, A., Müller, K., & Tomasello, M. (2019). Toddlers' intrinsic motivation to return help to their benefactor. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 188, 104658. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2019.06.011
Hepach, Robert, Amrisha Vaish, Katharina Müller, and Michael Tomasello. “Toddlers' intrinsic motivation to return help to their benefactor.Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 188 (December 2019): 104658. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2019.06.011.
Hepach R, Vaish A, Müller K, Tomasello M. Toddlers' intrinsic motivation to return help to their benefactor. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 2019 Dec;188:104658.
Hepach, Robert, et al. “Toddlers' intrinsic motivation to return help to their benefactor.Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol. 188, Dec. 2019, p. 104658. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2019.06.011.
Hepach R, Vaish A, Müller K, Tomasello M. Toddlers' intrinsic motivation to return help to their benefactor. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 2019 Dec;188:104658.
Journal cover image

Published In

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

DOI

EISSN

1096-0457

ISSN

0022-0965

Publication Date

December 2019

Volume

188

Start / End Page

104658

Related Subject Headings

  • Motivation
  • Male
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Infant
  • Humans
  • Helping Behavior
  • Female
  • Experimental Psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Arousal