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Dahl, Audun and Paulus, Markus (23. October 2018): From Interest to Obligation: The Gradual Development of Human Altruism. In: Child Development Perspectives, Vol. 13, No. 1: pp. 10-14 [PDF, 307kB]

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Altruism is a central feature of human morality. Recent research sheds light on the development of altruism in early childhood. In this article, we propose a theoretical framework that systematizes research on how altruism develops from infancy to childhood. The framework includes four phases in the development of human altruism: 1) interest in social interactions, 2) preference for others’ goal completion, 3) concern with others’ well-being, and 4) a normative stance toward altruistic actions. We point to needs for additional research, especially on developmental processes by which children develop from one phase to another, eventually leading children to acquire forms of altruism that play important roles in human societies.

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