Intergroup helping: How do children see it?

Jellie Sierksma*, Jochem Thijs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


In this chapter, we discuss research examining how children think about helping behaviour across and within different groups. In doing so, we primarily focus on middle to late childhood, which is a crucial period for the development of intergroup relations. We define helping behaviour as any kind of voluntary behaviour that is intended to benefit another person. This includes acts such as helping a peer with finding a lost key, assisting with homework, or getting help when someone has been injured. Although much is known about the development of prosocial behaviour, less research has focused on the underlying social-cognitive mechanisms. Therefore, our main focus is on children’s social cognitions. Still, we start by briefly considering research on children’s helping and sharing behaviours in intergroup contexts. Next, we focus on how children reason helping in general and continue by examining how group boundaries influence children’s judgement of helping. In doing so, we discuss the role of social identity and loyalty. Fourth, we consider the role of self-presentation and group norms in intergroup helping decisions and discuss how inducing empathy can stimulate the intention to help across group boundaries. We end with conclusions and suggestions for future research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntergroup Helping
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783319530260
ISBN (Print)9783319530246
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


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