Children's Perceptions of others' Kindness in Helping: The Endocentric Motivations of Pride and Guilt

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Department or Administrative Unit

Center for Teaching and Learning

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Elementary school and college students rated the kindness of helping by story protagonists with different attributed motivations. Of particular interest was the effect of the endocentric (self-serving) motivations of anticipated pride and guilt on the kindness ratings. A number of prosocial theorists view such endocentrically motivated helping as less altruistic than exocentrically (other-serving) motivated helping. Compared with helping attributed to the exocentric motivation of sympathy, helping attributed to guilt avoidance led to lower ratings of kindness by all but second graders. Pride-attributed helping, however, did not result in lower kindness ratings at any grade level. The motivational attributions of praise and reward attainment and criticism and punishment avoidance led to relatively low kindness ratings, with the two avoidance motivations leading to the lowest ratings. The latter finding suggests an alternative explanation of the kindness ratings for guilt-motivated helping.


This article was originally published in The Journal of Genetic Psychology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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The Journal of Genetic Psychology