Content of preachings and power of the model/preacher: The effect on children's generosity

Nancy Eisenberg, Elizabeth Geisheker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


In 3 studies the effects of the power of the model/preacher and content of preachings on children's generosity were examined. In the 1st 2 studies, 278 3rd and/or 4th graders were exposed to empathic, normative, or neutral preachings about sharing delivered by a high-power adult (the children's principal or an individual identified as a potential future teacher at the children's school) or a low-power adult (a principal from another school who the children did not know was a principal). Ss were then given the opportunity to donate a portion of their earnings anonymously. The effects of a specific component of power-competence of the model-on 77 3rd graders' generosity were examined in the 3rd study. Empathic preachings significantly enhanced generosity, regardless of the identity of the exhorter. Persons with potential direct control over the Ss (a future teacher at the school) and competent individuals were effective in inducing generous behavior; the school principals, whether they were identified as principals or not, did not prove to be powerful preachers. Ss tended to react against the modeling of the incompetent, generous model, giving significantly less than the control group after having observed an incompetent model being generous. (24 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-175
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 1979


  • content of preachings & power of model/preacher, generosity, 3rd & 4th graders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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