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The salience of children increases adult prosocial values

Wolf, Lukas J., Thorne, Sapphira R. ORCID:, Iosifyan, Marina, Foad, Colin ORCID:, Taylor, Samuel, Costin, Vlad, Karremans, Johan C., Haddock, Geoffrey ORCID: and Maio, Gregory R. 2022. The salience of children increases adult prosocial values. Social Psychological and Personality Science 13 (1) , pp. 160-169. 10.1177/19485506211007605

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Organizations often put children front and center in campaigns to elicit interest and support for prosocial causes. Such initiatives raise a key theoretical and applied question that has yet to be addressed directly: Does the salience of children increase prosocial motivation and behavior in adults? We present findings aggregated across eight experiments involving 2,054 adult participants: Prosocial values became more important after completing tasks that made children salient compared to tasks that made adults (or a mundane event) salient or compared to a no-task baseline. An additional field study showed that adults were more likely to donate money to a child-unrelated cause when children were more salient on a shopping street. The findings suggest broad, reliable interconnections between human mental representations of children and prosocial motives, as the child salience effect was not moderated by participants’ gender, age, attitudes, or contact with children.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 1948-5506
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 March 2021
Date of Acceptance: 26 February 2021
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 05:23

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