Precocious prosociality: Why do young children help?

  • Warneken F
  • 117


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 26


    Citations of this article.


Human prosociality is marked by the versatil- ity with which we help across various contexts. New research highlights that this capacity emerges early in human ontogeny. In this article, I review evidence show- ing that young children’s helping is both flexible and robust, based upon inferential social-cognitive capacities and prosocial motivations. Then I discuss the possible evo- lutionary function of helping skills as an early-emerging trait. I use evolutionary theory and anthropological evi- dence to support the hypothesis that children’s helping affects adult subsistence in traditional societies and argue that evolution thus might have favored an early develop- mental onset of these behaviors.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Altruism
  • Cooperation
  • Empathy
  • Evolution
  • Prosocial behavior

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free