This experimental vignette study examined children's perceptions and evaluations of helping a peer, in the context of friendships and in the presence of by-standing peers. A total of 1246 children (8 to 12 years) reported their attitude toward helping when either friends of the helper, friends of the recipient of help, or no bystanders were present. In agreement with the competitive altruism model, children most strongly endorsed helping when friends of the helper were present compared to the other two situations. This indicates that children take reputation concerns into account when evaluating helping situations. However, in contrast to lower prosocial children, the evaluations of higher prosocial children were not influenced by the presence of by-standing peers. These children seemed to base their evaluation on increasing the recipient's welfare and less on reputation concerns of the helper.
- competitive altruism