British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 33 Issue 3 (September 2015), Pages 259-403

Children's prosocial behavioural intentions towards outgroup members (pages 277-294)

When will children decide to help outgroup peers? We examined how intergroup competition, social perspective taking (SPT), and empathy influence children's (5–10 years, = 287) prosocial intentions towards outgroup members. Study 1 showed that, in a minimal group situation, prosociality was lower in an intergroup competitive than in a non‐competitive or interpersonal context. Study 2 revealed that, in a real groups situation involving intergroup competition, prosociality was associated with higher empathy and lower competitive motivation. In a subsequent non‐competitive context, there were age differences in the impact of SPT and competitive motivation. With age, relationships strengthened between SPT and prosociality (positively) and between competitiveness and prosociality (negatively). Among older children, there was a carry‐over effect whereby feelings of intergroup competitiveness aroused by the intergroup competitive context suppressed outgroup prosociality in the following non‐competitive context. Theoretical and practical implications for improving children's intergroup relationships are discussed.

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