When Helping Hurts: Children Think Groups That Receive Help Are Less Smart

Jellie Sierksma, Kristin Shutts

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Helping has many positive consequences for both helpers and recipients. However, in the present research, we considered a possible downside to receiving help: that it signals a deficiency. We investigated whether young children make inferences about intelligence from observing some groups of people receive help and other groups not. In a novel group paradigm, we show that children (4-6 years) think groups that receive help are less smart (n = 44) but not less nice (n = 45). Children also generalized their inferences about relative intelligence to new group members (n = 55; forced-choice-method). These results have implications for understanding how children develop stereotypes about intelligence as well as for educational practices that group children according to their ability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715-723
Number of pages9
JournalChild Development
Issue number3
Early online date3 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 The Authors. Child Development published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Society for Research in Child Development.


Dive into the research topics of 'When Helping Hurts: Children Think Groups That Receive Help Are Less Smart'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this