Five-Year-Old Children’s Prosocial Choice and the Interaction between Recipients and Actors

  • Zhi Tang


Studies on children’s prosocial behavior, complemented by researchers, have shown the existence of children’s prosocial behavior and the influencing factors of prosocial behavior, but there is almost no evidence for the influence of recipients’ behavior on prosocial choice activities. Here, we administered a prosocial choice test (PCT) to five-year-old children, in which children could choose between two differently colored tokens: a “selfish” token, resulting in a reward for the actor only (1/0), and a “prosocial” token, rewarding both the actor and a recipient (1/1). Thirty-five children were recruited for testing; each tested with two different recipients, and showed a significant bias for the prosocial option. Following actors’ prosocial choices, recipients generally had no reaction (neutral), but if the actor’s choice was the “selfish” token, recipients would respond to get attention or even express their directed requests. However, for actors, more prosocial choices occurred in response to the attention-getting behavior. Recipients’ directed requests did not increase actors’ prosocial tendency. These results of actor–recipient interactions indicate that five-year-old children can make independent choices and show limited affection concerning the needs of recipients. Pressure and direct requests do not force them to favour prosocial behavior over selfish behavior.