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J Exp Child Psychol. 2013 Jul;115(3):570-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.12.011. Epub 2013 Feb 26.

Young children selectively seek help when solving problems.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


There is strong evidence that children show selectivity in their reliance on others as sources of information, but the findings to date have largely been limited to contexts that involve factual information. The current experiments were designed to determine whether children might also show selectivity in their choice of sources within a problem-solving context. Children in two age groups (20-24 months and 30-36 months, total N=60) were presented with a series of conceptually difficult problem-solving tasks and were given an opportunity to interact with adult experimenters who were depicted as either good helpers or bad helpers. Participants in both age groups preferred to seek help from the good helpers. The findings suggest that even young children evaluate others with reference to their potential to provide help and use this information to guide their behavioral choices.

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