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The effects of intergroup competition on prosocial behaviors in young children: a comparison of 2.5-3.5 year-olds with 5.5-6.5 year-olds.

Zhu Y, Guan X, Li Y - Front Behav Neurosci (2015)

Bottom Line: We found that under the non-intergroup competition condition, as children aged, their behaviors tended to be more fairness-oriented (such as an increase in egalitarian behaviors).However, under the intergroup competition condition, children at 2.5-3.5 years of age tended to behave prosocially towards their ingroup members compared with those who are at 5.5-6.5 years of age.Taken together, these results point to the importance of considering the effects of competitive contexts on children's social behaviors and may have important implications for further research on the role of competitive contexts in the development of human prosocial behaviors.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of International Business, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics Chengdu, China.

ABSTRACT
Group-based competition is considered to be a ubiquitous social context in human society. However, little is known about its potential effects on children's prosocial behaviors. To this end, we designed an experiment in which two age groups (2.5-3.5 years of age and 5.5-6.5 years of age) engaged in an intergroup competition task where they did a so-called "game" where each child transferred table tennis balls with a spoon from one container to the other. The non-intergroup competition condition was identical to the intergroup competition condition with one exception-no intergroup competition manipulation was involved. Then, they were required to perform two economic games used to measure their prosocial behaviors. We found that under the non-intergroup competition condition, as children aged, their behaviors tended to be more fairness-oriented (such as an increase in egalitarian behaviors). However, under the intergroup competition condition, children at 2.5-3.5 years of age tended to behave prosocially towards their ingroup members compared with those who are at 5.5-6.5 years of age. The behavioral pattern under the intergroup competition condition reflects strengthening prosocial tendencies driven by the intergroup competition in younger children and simultaneously weakening intergroup competition-driven prosocial tendencies possibly due to the development of fairness-oriented behaviors in older children. Taken together, these results point to the importance of considering the effects of competitive contexts on children's social behaviors and may have important implications for further research on the role of competitive contexts in the development of human prosocial behaviors.

No MeSH data available.


The effects of intergroup competition on prosocial choices in two economic games. The black solid lines denote the percentage of egalitarian choices (1,1) in the sharing game, while the gray dashed lines denote the percentage of altruistic choices (1,2) in the envy game. Under the intergroup competition condition and the non-intergroup competition condition, participants’ choices determine an ingroup member’s payoffs. Under the intergroup competition condition, the percentage of egalitarian choices (1,1) vs. selfish choices (2,0) in the sharing game decreases with age and the percentage of altruistic choices (1,2) vs. the egalitarian choices (1,1) also decreases with age in the envy game. Under the non-intergroup competition, the percentage of egalitarian choices increases with age, while the percentage of altruistic choices decreases with age, indicating that young children tend to be more egalitarian as their age increases.
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Figure 2: The effects of intergroup competition on prosocial choices in two economic games. The black solid lines denote the percentage of egalitarian choices (1,1) in the sharing game, while the gray dashed lines denote the percentage of altruistic choices (1,2) in the envy game. Under the intergroup competition condition and the non-intergroup competition condition, participants’ choices determine an ingroup member’s payoffs. Under the intergroup competition condition, the percentage of egalitarian choices (1,1) vs. selfish choices (2,0) in the sharing game decreases with age and the percentage of altruistic choices (1,2) vs. the egalitarian choices (1,1) also decreases with age in the envy game. Under the non-intergroup competition, the percentage of egalitarian choices increases with age, while the percentage of altruistic choices decreases with age, indicating that young children tend to be more egalitarian as their age increases.

Mentions: Our data analysis on participants’ behaviors in the sharing game revealed that there were 75% of children who chose (1, 1), significantly above a chance level (50%) (Binomial test, p < 0.001, n = 250), suggesting that young children who experienced the intergroup competition behaved prosocially towards their in-group partners. This was further substantiated by our analyses on the egalitarian choices within each group (Binomial test: p < 0.001, n = 122, for 2.5–3.5 years of age; p < 0.001, n = 128, for 5.5–6.5 years of age). However, the effects of the winning and losing outcomes on egalitarian choices in this game were not statistically significant (Fisher’s exact test, p = 0.88, n = 250), 76% of children in the losing group and 74% of children in the winning group chose (1, 1). Neither did we observe a significant gender difference in egalitarian choices, because the frequencies of egalitarian choices by females (76%) and males (75%) were almost identical (Fisher’s exact test, p = 1.00, n = 250). More importantly, we observed a pronounced age effect: the frequency of egalitarian choices made by children at 2.5–3.5 years of age (82%) in this game was significantly higher than that made by their old counterparts (69%) (Figure 2) (Fisher’s exact test, p < 0.05, n = 250), indicating that children at 2.5–3.5 years of age tend to share their resources with their in-group partners after experiencing the intergroup competition. Finally, our statistical analysis did not reveal a significant interaction effect between competition outcomes (winning vs. losing) and age (Wald’s χ2 = 0.726, p > 0.05), indicating that the observed age effect on choice behaviors in the sharing game did not depend on the competition outcomes.


The effects of intergroup competition on prosocial behaviors in young children: a comparison of 2.5-3.5 year-olds with 5.5-6.5 year-olds.

Zhu Y, Guan X, Li Y - Front Behav Neurosci (2015)

The effects of intergroup competition on prosocial choices in two economic games. The black solid lines denote the percentage of egalitarian choices (1,1) in the sharing game, while the gray dashed lines denote the percentage of altruistic choices (1,2) in the envy game. Under the intergroup competition condition and the non-intergroup competition condition, participants’ choices determine an ingroup member’s payoffs. Under the intergroup competition condition, the percentage of egalitarian choices (1,1) vs. selfish choices (2,0) in the sharing game decreases with age and the percentage of altruistic choices (1,2) vs. the egalitarian choices (1,1) also decreases with age in the envy game. Under the non-intergroup competition, the percentage of egalitarian choices increases with age, while the percentage of altruistic choices decreases with age, indicating that young children tend to be more egalitarian as their age increases.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4325911&req=5

Figure 2: The effects of intergroup competition on prosocial choices in two economic games. The black solid lines denote the percentage of egalitarian choices (1,1) in the sharing game, while the gray dashed lines denote the percentage of altruistic choices (1,2) in the envy game. Under the intergroup competition condition and the non-intergroup competition condition, participants’ choices determine an ingroup member’s payoffs. Under the intergroup competition condition, the percentage of egalitarian choices (1,1) vs. selfish choices (2,0) in the sharing game decreases with age and the percentage of altruistic choices (1,2) vs. the egalitarian choices (1,1) also decreases with age in the envy game. Under the non-intergroup competition, the percentage of egalitarian choices increases with age, while the percentage of altruistic choices decreases with age, indicating that young children tend to be more egalitarian as their age increases.
Mentions: Our data analysis on participants’ behaviors in the sharing game revealed that there were 75% of children who chose (1, 1), significantly above a chance level (50%) (Binomial test, p < 0.001, n = 250), suggesting that young children who experienced the intergroup competition behaved prosocially towards their in-group partners. This was further substantiated by our analyses on the egalitarian choices within each group (Binomial test: p < 0.001, n = 122, for 2.5–3.5 years of age; p < 0.001, n = 128, for 5.5–6.5 years of age). However, the effects of the winning and losing outcomes on egalitarian choices in this game were not statistically significant (Fisher’s exact test, p = 0.88, n = 250), 76% of children in the losing group and 74% of children in the winning group chose (1, 1). Neither did we observe a significant gender difference in egalitarian choices, because the frequencies of egalitarian choices by females (76%) and males (75%) were almost identical (Fisher’s exact test, p = 1.00, n = 250). More importantly, we observed a pronounced age effect: the frequency of egalitarian choices made by children at 2.5–3.5 years of age (82%) in this game was significantly higher than that made by their old counterparts (69%) (Figure 2) (Fisher’s exact test, p < 0.05, n = 250), indicating that children at 2.5–3.5 years of age tend to share their resources with their in-group partners after experiencing the intergroup competition. Finally, our statistical analysis did not reveal a significant interaction effect between competition outcomes (winning vs. losing) and age (Wald’s χ2 = 0.726, p > 0.05), indicating that the observed age effect on choice behaviors in the sharing game did not depend on the competition outcomes.

Bottom Line: We found that under the non-intergroup competition condition, as children aged, their behaviors tended to be more fairness-oriented (such as an increase in egalitarian behaviors).However, under the intergroup competition condition, children at 2.5-3.5 years of age tended to behave prosocially towards their ingroup members compared with those who are at 5.5-6.5 years of age.Taken together, these results point to the importance of considering the effects of competitive contexts on children's social behaviors and may have important implications for further research on the role of competitive contexts in the development of human prosocial behaviors.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of International Business, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics Chengdu, China.

ABSTRACT
Group-based competition is considered to be a ubiquitous social context in human society. However, little is known about its potential effects on children's prosocial behaviors. To this end, we designed an experiment in which two age groups (2.5-3.5 years of age and 5.5-6.5 years of age) engaged in an intergroup competition task where they did a so-called "game" where each child transferred table tennis balls with a spoon from one container to the other. The non-intergroup competition condition was identical to the intergroup competition condition with one exception-no intergroup competition manipulation was involved. Then, they were required to perform two economic games used to measure their prosocial behaviors. We found that under the non-intergroup competition condition, as children aged, their behaviors tended to be more fairness-oriented (such as an increase in egalitarian behaviors). However, under the intergroup competition condition, children at 2.5-3.5 years of age tended to behave prosocially towards their ingroup members compared with those who are at 5.5-6.5 years of age. The behavioral pattern under the intergroup competition condition reflects strengthening prosocial tendencies driven by the intergroup competition in younger children and simultaneously weakening intergroup competition-driven prosocial tendencies possibly due to the development of fairness-oriented behaviors in older children. Taken together, these results point to the importance of considering the effects of competitive contexts on children's social behaviors and may have important implications for further research on the role of competitive contexts in the development of human prosocial behaviors.

No MeSH data available.