Ethnic helping and group identity: A study among majority group children

Jellie Sierksma, Jochem Thijs, Maykel Verkuyten

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Two vignette studies were conducted on children's evaluations of ethnic helping. In the first study, 272 native Dutch children (mean age = 10.7) evaluated a child who refused to help in an intra-group context (Dutch–Dutch or Turkish–Turkish) or inter-group context (Dutch–Turkish or Turkish–Dutch). Children evaluated not helping in intra-group situations more negatively than not helping in inter-group situations. This suggests that they applied a general moral norm of group loyalty that states that children should help peers of their own group. In the second study, 830 children (mean age = 10.7) read the same vignettes after their ethnic group membership was made salient. In the inter-group contexts, children who strongly identified with their ethnic group evaluated an out-group member not helping an in-group member more negatively than vice versa. Thus, when ethnic identity was salient, children tended to focus more on group identity rather than on the principle of group loyalty.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)803-819
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Inter-group relations
  • Moral development
  • Prosocial behavior


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