Asking children to "be helpers" can backfire after setbacks

Emily Foster-Hanson, Rachel Leshin & Marjorie Rhodes
Describing behaviors as reflecting categories (e.g., asking children to “be helpers”) has been found to increase pro-social behavior. The present studies (N = 139, ages 4-5) tested whether such effects backfire if children have difficulty performing category-relevant actions. In Study 1, children were asked to “be helpers” or “to help,” and then pretended to complete a series of successful scenarios (e.g., pouring milk) and unsuccessful scenarios (e.g., spilling milk while trying to pour it). After...
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