GAP - Games and Prosocial Behavior in Preschoolers

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Description: How do games influence prosociality? Based on the Social Interdependence Theory (SIT) three different gaming contexts (relations between gamers’ goals) can be deduced – cooperative, competitive and individual. According to SIT, cooperative contexts foster more prosociality towards co-players than competitive or individual ones, which is supported by game studies with children and adults (e.g. Anderson & Morrow, 1995; Bay-Hinitz, Peterson, & Quilitch, 1994; Ewoldsen et al., 2012; Garaigordobil, & Echebarria, 1995; Grineski, 1991; Orlick, 1981; Street, Hoppe, Kingsbury, & Ma, 2004). In previous research, gaming context is often confounded with other variables (e.g. content or outcome), which impedes an unambiguous interpretation of the results. Which part of the promoted prosociality can be ascribed to the gaming context? Another related issue is the scope of the game-induced prosocial behavior. Following recent studies with adults, cooperative games do not only promote prosociality towards co-players, but also towards unfamiliar persons (Greitemeyer & Cox, 2013; Jin & Li, 2017). To date, this question has not been investigated in children. How does the gaming context influence the prosociality of children towards unfamiliar persons? A newly developed game “KoKo” for one or two players which can be played cooperatively, competitively or individually is used for an experimental study. Dyads of 4- and 5-year-olds play KoKo in one of the three contexts. Hereafter a dictator game is used to measure sharing behavior. Inclusion of others is assessed by a ball tossing game, in which a new co-player joins the child’s group. Additionally, free play between the co-players is observed in regard to prosociality.

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