skip to main content skip to footer

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Model Inconsistency and Its Effect on Self-Sacrifice NICHD

Bryan, James H.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Altruism., Behavioral Science Research, Charity, Child Psychology


This experiment was designed to assess the effects of model inconsistency upon children's altruistic behavior. Thirty-eight boys and 53 girls were exposed to a model (M) who, when provided the opportunity to donate gift certificates to the needy, either did so (practiced charity) or refused to do so (modeled greed). In addition, within each of these two treatments, subjects (Ss) heard M either exhort charity, preach greed, or maintain a "neutral" conversation. Ss were then left alone and were provided the opportunity to donate gift certificates won while playing a bowling game. While the amount donated was not significantly related to the treatments, the number of donors were. Children imitated the M's actions but were not affected by the exhortations. Inconsistency in words and deeds did not affect subsequent emission of the altruistic behavior.

Read More