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Wörle, Monika; Essler, Samuel ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9498-866X and Paulus, Markus (October 2020): Paying it back and forward: The impact of experiencing and observing others’ sharing and stinginess on preschoolers’ own sharing behavior and expectations. In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Vol. 198, 104886

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Recent research suggests that children’s sharing behavior is affected by experiencing or observing others’ sharing. These effects have been studied within research on the development of reciprocity and the effects of social modeling. In the current study, direct and indirect types of reciprocity and social modeling were assessed in 3- to 6-year-old children in three experiments (overall N = 382). In each experiment, we explored whether negative and positive social behavior were similarly paid back and forward in each of the different types of reciprocity. Moreover, we assessed the extent to which children reciprocated toward the protagonist who had performed the actual behavior and toward a neutral other. In Experiment 1, children experienced another's sharing behavior as recipients and could then allocate resources to this character and a neutral other. In Experiment 2, children observed another’s sharing behavior and could then allocate resources to this character and a neutral other. In Experiment 3, children were asked to predict another protagonist’s sharing in the same context as in Experiment 1. Overall, children treated the protagonist and the neutral other similarly and predicted others to do the same. Yet, they were more likely to reciprocate negative acts in indirect types of reciprocity. The results are interpreted with respect to the impact of observational learning and representational development on children’s social behavior.

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