Children help others to complete their goals. Yet adults are sometimes motivated to help others in a “paternalistic” way, overriding a recipient's desires if they conflict with the recipient's best interests. Experiments investigated whether 5-year-olds (n = 100) consider a recipient's desire, and the consequences of fulfilling this desire, when helping. Children overrode a request for chocolate in favor of giving fruit snacks, if chocolate would make the recipient sick. Children did not override a request for chocolate in favor of carrots, even if chocolate would make the recipient sick, but they gave carrots if the recipient requested them. By age 5, children balance different motivations when helping, considering the recipient's desires, consequences of fulfilling them, and alternative forms of helping available.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology