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Dev Psychol. 2008 Nov;44(6):1785-8. doi: 10.1037/a0013860.

Extrinsic rewards undermine altruistic tendencies in 20-month-olds.

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Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany.


The current study investigated the influence of rewards on very young children's helping behavior. After 20-month-old infants received a material reward during a treatment phase, they subsequently were less likely to engage in further helping during a test phase as compared with infants who had previously received social praise or no reward at all. This so-called overjustification effect suggests that even the earliest helping behaviors of young children are intrinsically motivated and that socialization practices involving extrinsic rewards can undermine this tendency.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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