Who helps best? Children’s evaluation of knowledgeable versus wealthy individuals in negative event contexts

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kimberly E. Marble (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Janet Boseovski

Abstract: Children favor knowledgeable people in information-seeking contexts, but does this preference extend to negative event contexts when other resources are available to resolve problems? This study addressed whether children prioritized knowledge or wealth to decide who is best suited to help someone in need. Sixty-four 5- to 8-year-olds heard two vignettes in which two bystanders (i.e., knowledgeable versus wealthy) witnessed a target character experience a negative event (i.e., physical injury, unfair rule). Children were asked which bystander should assist the target and which should supervise the situation. Children also evaluated how bystanders could help the target and how much each bystander should offer help. Across ages, children indicated that the knowledgeable bystander should provide aid, supervise, and should help more than the wealthy bystander. Children referenced how knowledge could produce solutions and with age, were better able to make knowledge- rather than wealth-related predictions about helpful behavior. Although children made positive trait attributions for both bystanders, children indicated that it would be particularly bad if the knowledgeable bystander failed to help, which suggests that children may hold knowledgeable people more accountable than wealthy people. These findings shed light on how children decide who is helpful and draw connections between children’s reasoning about knowledge, wealth, and morality.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022
Knowledge, Moral reasoning, Negative events, Social cognition, Wealth
Reasoning in children
Decision making in children
Social perception in children

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