The influence of intention and outcome on young children's reciprocal sharing.J Exp Child Psychol 2019; 187:104645JE
This study investigated the influence of underlying intentions and outcomes of a partner's sharing behavior on young children's reciprocity. We provided 3- and 5-year-old children with the opportunity to share with a partner following different treatments of a partner's intention (to share or not to share) that led to different outcomes (children got or did not get stickers from their partner). For the 3-year-olds, we found that the outcome of the previous interaction influenced how much they shared, whereas the intention of their partner affected how readily they initiated sharing in response to social cues. For the 5-year-olds, we found that both outcome and intention affected how much they shared as well as how readily they initiated sharing. This suggests that already 3-year-olds are able to take into account outcome and intention information separately in reciprocal sharing. However, only 5-year-olds can combine both to flexibly maintain social interactions without running the risk of being exploited by others.