Who's more generous than me? Children's self-evaluation of their prosociality in normative social comparisons

Bar Levy, Hagit Sabato, Yoella Bereby-Meyer, Tehila Kogut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examined the development of children's self-evaluation of their prosociality in normative social comparisons (with an average peer). Results suggest that when comparing themselves with an average other in the abstract (i.e., without reference to actual behavior), elementary school children (aged 6–12 years) demonstrated the better than average (BTA) effect of perceiving themselves as more prosocial than their average peer (Study 1). However, when they evaluated other children's prosociality (sharing), after experiencing an actual opportunity to share their endowment with others (Studies 2 and 3), the younger children (at first-grade level) exhibited the worse than average (WTA) effect in that they assumed that their peers would act more generously than themselves. Task difficulty predicted relative self-evaluations across all examined ages, such that greater difficulty was related to a lower BTA effect (or a greater WTA effect). However, whereas the older children used abstract difficulty perceptions to evaluate themselves relative to others, the younger children's evaluations were affected only by the difficulty that they themselves experienced. In all age groups, the BTA effect was driven mostly by participants who were above the mean in the extent of their sharing, whereas the WTA effect was driven by those who shared below the mean of their age group.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104996
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume201
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Better than average
  • Children's self-evaluation
  • Prosocial behavior
  • Sharing behavior
  • Social comparisons
  • Worse than average

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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