Factors related to helping behavior in preschool-age children

Charles L. Richman, Carolyn Berry, Monnie Bittle, Kim Himan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present two studies were conducted to assess the prosocial behaviors (comforting and helping) of preschool children as a function of the race and gender of the subjects and peer confederates. Results indicated that black, preschool-age males demonstrated prosocial behaviors more often than did white males and females. These findings were discussed in terms of the confounding between race of child and father absence; that is, a disproportionate number of black children were living in fatherless homes. It was suggested that single parents may turn to their opposite-sex child for both emotional and physical support and thus the child learns comforting and helping behaviors early in life. Support for this suggestion was derived from the finding that the number of household chores assigned to a child was positively related to helping behavior. The present results also showed that comforting and helping behaviors were negatively related, suggesting that prosocial acts are not a function of a general personality trait but are situationally specific. Finally, it was noted that race and gender of the peer confederate were not factors in determining the prosocial responses of the subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-165
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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