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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Do Children Selectively Display Prosocial Behaviors Towards Members of their Linguistic Ingroup?

  • Author(s): Menjivar, Jennifer
  • Advisor(s): Akhtar, Nameera
  • et al.

Recent research has shown that young children are biased in favor of speakers of their native language (Kinzler, Dupoux, & Spelke, 2007). The current studies examined whether preschoolers (N = 96) would selectively help/share with a linguistic ingroup member. In two experiments, three- and five-year-old English speaking monolinguals played four games with either an English- or Spanish-speaking experimenter; within each game children had the opportunity to help the experimenter, usually by sharing their own resources. Five-year-olds required fewer cues than three-year-olds to prompt their helping. Although helping rates were low overall, in both experiments children of both ages helped the English- and Spanish-speaking experimenter equally. These findings suggest that in interactions with live speakers, preschool children may not be biased to selectively help native speakers.

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