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Publications of Margarita L. Svetlova    :chronological  alphabetical  combined listing:

%% Journal Articles   
   Author = {Corbit, J and Callaghan, T and Svetlova, M},
   Title = {Toddlers' costly helping in three societies.},
   Journal = {Journal of Experimental Child Psychology},
   Volume = {195},
   Pages = {104841},
   Year = {2020},
   Month = {July},
   url = {},
   Abstract = {Over the second and third years of life, toddlers begin to
             engage in helping even when it comes at a personal cost.
             During this same period, toddlers gain experience of
             ownership, which may influence their tendency to help at a
             cost. Whereas costly helping has been studied in Western
             children, who have ample access to resources, the emergence
             of costly helping has not been examined in societies where
             children's experience with ownership is varied and access to
             resources is scarce. The current study compared the
             development of toddlers' costly and non-costly helping in
             three societies within Canada, India, and Peru that differ
             in these aspects of children's early social experience. In
             two conditions, 16- to 36-month-olds (N = 100) helped an
             experimenter by giving either their own items (Costly
             condition) or the experimenter's items (Non-costly
             condition). Children's tendency to help increased with age
             in the Non-costly condition across all three societies. In
             the Costly condition, in Canada children's tendency to help
             increased with age, in Peru children's helping remained
             stable across age, and in India children's level of helping
             decreased with age. Thus, whereas we replicate the findings
             that non-costly helping appears to develop synchronously
             across diverse societies, costly helping may depend on
             children's early society-specific experiences. We discuss
             these findings in relation to children's early ownership
             experience and access to resources, factors that may account
             for the divergent patterns in the development of costly
             helping across these societies.},
   Doi = {10.1016/j.jecp.2020.104841},
   Key = {fds349357}

   Author = {Kachel, U and Svetlova, M and Tomasello, M},
   Title = {Three- and 5-year-old children's understanding of how to
             dissolve a joint commitment.},
   Journal = {Journal of Experimental Child Psychology},
   Volume = {184},
   Pages = {34-47},
   Year = {2019},
   Month = {August},
   url = {},
   Abstract = {When young children form a joint commitment with a partner,
             they understand that this agreement generates obligations.
             In this study, we investigated whether young children
             understand that joint commitments, and their associated
             obligations, may likewise be dissolved by agreement. The
             participants (3- and 5-year-olds; N = 144) formed a
             joint commitment with a puppet to play a collaborative game.
             In one condition, the puppet asked permission to break off
             and the children agreed; in a second condition, the puppet
             notified the children of his or her leaving; and in a third
             condition, the puppet just left abruptly. Children at both
             ages protested more and waited longer for the puppet's
             return (and said that the puppet deserved scolding and no
             prize at the end) when the puppet left abruptly than in the
             other two conditions (with "asking permission" leading to
             the least protest of all). Overall, 3-year-olds protested
             more, and waited longer for the partner's return, than
             5-year-olds. Preschool children understand that the
             obligations of a joint commitment may be dissolved by
             agreement or, to a lesser degree, by notification.},
   Doi = {10.1016/j.jecp.2019.03.008},
   Key = {fds345319}

   Author = {Kachel, U and Svetlova, M and Tomasello, M},
   Title = {Three-Year-Olds' Reactions to a Partner's Failure to Perform
             Her Role in a Joint Commitment.},
   Journal = {Child Development},
   Volume = {89},
   Number = {5},
   Pages = {1691-1703},
   Year = {2018},
   Month = {September},
   url = {},
   Abstract = {When children make a joint commitment to collaborate,
             obligations are created. Pairs of 3-year-old children
             (N = 144) made a joint commitment to play a game. In three
             different conditions the game was interrupted in the middle
             either because: (a) the partner child intentionally
             defected, (b) the partner child was ignorant about how to
             play, or (c) the apparatus broke. The subject child reacted
             differently in the three cases, protesting normatively
             against defection (with emotional arousal and later
             tattling), teaching when the partner seemed to be ignorant,
             or simply blaming the apparatus when it broke. These results
             suggest that 3-year-old children are competent in making
             appropriate normative evaluations of intentions and
             obligations of collaborative partners.},
   Doi = {10.1111/cdev.12816},
   Key = {fds326699}

   Author = {Schmidt, MFH and Svetlova, M and Johe, J and Tomasello,
   Title = {Children's developing understanding of legitimate reasons
             for allocating resources unequally},
   Journal = {Cognitive Development},
   Volume = {37},
   Pages = {42-52},
   Publisher = {Elsevier BV},
   Year = {2016},
   Month = {January},
   url = {},
   Abstract = {Recent research on distributive justice suggests that young
             children prefer equal distributions. But sometimes unequal
             distributions are justified, such as when some individuals
             deserve more than others based on merit, need, or
             agreed-upon rules. When and how do children start
             incorporating such factors in their distributive decisions?
             Three-, 5-, and 8-year-old children (N= 72) had the
             opportunity to allocate several items to two individuals.
             One individual was neutral and the other provided a reason
             why she should be favored. Three of these reasons were
             legitimate (based on merit, need, or agreed-upon rules)
             whereas a fourth was idiosyncratic ("I just want more."). We
             found that with age, children's equality preference
             diminished and their acceptance of various reasons for
             privileged treatment increased. It was not until 8 years,
             however, that they differentiated between legitimate and
             idiosyncratic reasons for inequality. These findings suggest
             that children's sense of distributive justice develops from
             an early equality preference to a more flexible
             understanding of the basic normative reasons that inequality
             may, in some cases, be just.},
   Doi = {10.1016/j.cogdev.2015.11.001},
   Key = {fds318788}

   Author = {Gross, RL and Drummond, J and Satlof-Bedrick, E and Waugh, WE and Svetlova, M and Brownell, CA},
   Title = {Individual differences in toddlers' social understanding and
             prosocial behavior: disposition or socialization?},
   Journal = {Frontiers in Psychology},
   Volume = {6},
   Pages = {600},
   Year = {2015},
   Month = {January},
   url = {},
   Abstract = {We examined how individual differences in social
             understanding contribute to variability in early-appearing
             prosocial behavior. Moreover, potential sources of
             variability in social understanding were explored and
             examined as additional possible predictors of prosocial
             behavior. Using a multi-method approach with both observed
             and parent-report measures, 325 children aged 18-30 months
             were administered measures of social understanding (e.g.,
             use of emotion words; self-understanding), prosocial
             behavior (in separate tasks measuring instrumental helping,
             empathic helping, and sharing, as well as parent-reported
             prosociality at home), temperament (fearfulness, shyness,
             and social fear), and parental socialization of prosocial
             behavior in the family. Individual differences in social
             understanding predicted variability in empathic helping and
             parent-reported prosociality, but not instrumental helping
             or sharing. Parental socialization of prosocial behavior was
             positively associated with toddlers' social understanding,
             prosocial behavior at home, and instrumental helping in the
             lab, and negatively associated with sharing (possibly
             reflecting parents' increased efforts to encourage children
             who were less likely to share). Further, socialization
             moderated the association between social understanding and
             prosocial behavior, such that social understanding was less
             predictive of prosocial behavior among children whose
             parents took a more active role in socializing their
             prosociality. None of the dimensions of temperament was
             associated with either social understanding or prosocial
             behavior. Parental socialization of prosocial behavior is
             thus an important source of variability in children's early
             prosociality, acting in concert with early differences in
             social understanding, with different patterns of influence
             for different subtypes of prosocial behavior.},
   Doi = {10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00600},
   Key = {fds327019}

   Author = {Brownell, CA and Iesue, SS and Nichols, SR and Svetlova,
   Title = {Mine or yours? Development of sharing in toddlers in
             relation to ownership understanding.},
   Journal = {Child Development},
   Volume = {84},
   Number = {3},
   Pages = {906-920},
   Year = {2013},
   Month = {May},
   url = {},
   Abstract = {To examine early developments in other-oriented resource
             sharing, fifty-one 18- and 24-month-old children were
             administered 6 tasks with toys or food that could be shared
             with an adult playmate who had none. On each task the
             playmate communicated her desire for the items in a series
             of progressively more explicit cues. Twenty-four-month-olds
             shared frequently and spontaneously. Eighteen-month-olds
             shared when given multiple opportunities and when the
             partner provided enough communicative support. Younger
             children engaged in self-focused and hypothesis-testing
             behavior in lieu of sharing more often than did older
             children. Ownership understanding, separately assessed, was
             positively associated with sharing and negatively associated
             with non-sharing behavior, independent of age and language
   Doi = {10.1111/cdev.12009},
   Key = {fds318789}

   Author = {Brownell, CA and Svetlova, M and Anderson, R and Nichols, SR and Drummond, J},
   Title = {Socialization of Early Prosocial Behavior: Parents' Talk
             about Emotions is Associated with Sharing and Helping in
   Journal = {Infancy},
   Volume = {18},
   Pages = {91-119},
   Year = {2013},
   Month = {January},
   url = {},
   Abstract = {What role does socialization play in the origins of
             prosocial behavior? We examined one potential socialization
             mechanism, parents' discourse about others' emotions with
             very young children in whom prosocial behavior is still
             nascent. Two studies are reported, one of sharing in 18- and
             24-month-olds (n = 29), and one of instrumental and
             empathy-based helping in 18- and 30-month-olds (n = 62). In
             both studies, parents read age-appropriate picture books to
             their children and the content and structure of their
             emotion-related and internal state discourse were coded.
             Results showed that children who helped and shared more
             quickly and more often, especially in tasks that required
             more complex emotion understanding, had parents who more
             often asked them to label and explain the emotions depicted
             in the books. Moreover, it was parents' elicitation of
             children's talk about emotions rather than parents' own
             production of emotion labels and explanations that explained
             children's prosocial behavior, even after controlling for
             age. Thus, it is the quality, not the quantity, of parents'
             talk about emotions with their toddlers that matters for
             early prosocial behavior.},
   Doi = {10.1111/j.1532-7078.2012.00125.x},
   Key = {fds318790}

   Author = {Decety, J and Svetlova, M},
   Title = {Putting together phylogenetic and ontogenetic perspectives
             on empathy.},
   Journal = {Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience},
   Volume = {2},
   Number = {1},
   Pages = {1-24},
   Year = {2012},
   Month = {January},
   url = {},
   Abstract = {The ontogeny of human empathy is better understood with
             reference to the evolutionary history of the social brain.
             Empathy has deep evolutionary, biochemical, and neurological
             underpinnings. Even the most advanced forms of empathy in
             humans are built on more basic forms and remain connected to
             core mechanisms associated with affective communication,
             social attachment, and parental care. In this paper, we
             argue that it is essential to consider empathy within a
             neurodevelopmental framework that recognizes both the
             continuities and changes in socioemotional understanding
             from infancy to adulthood. We bring together
             neuroevolutionary and developmental perspectives on the
             information processing and neural mechanisms underlying
             empathy and caring, and show that they are grounded in
             multiple interacting systems and processes. Moreover,
             empathy in humans is assisted by other abstract and
             domain-general high-level cognitive abilities such as
             executive functions, mentalizing and language, as well as
             the ability to differentiate another's mental states from
             one's own, which expand the range of behaviors that can be
             driven by empathy.},
   Doi = {10.1016/j.dcn.2011.05.003},
   Key = {fds318791}

   Author = {Svetlova, M and Nichols, SR and Brownell, CA},
   Title = {Toddlers' prosocial behavior: from instrumental to empathic
             to altruistic helping.},
   Journal = {Child Development},
   Volume = {81},
   Number = {6},
   Pages = {1814-1827},
   Year = {2010},
   Month = {November},
   url = {},
   Abstract = {The study explored how the meaning of prosocial behavior
             changes over toddlerhood. Sixty-five 18- and 30-month-olds
             could help an adult in 3 contexts: instrumental (action
             based), empathic (emotion based), and altruistic (costly).
             Children at both ages helped readily in instrumental tasks.
             For 18-month-olds, empathic helping was significantly more
             difficult than instrumental helping and required greater
             communication from the adult about her needs. Altruistic
             helping, which involved giving up an object of the child's
             own, was the most difficult for children at both ages.
             Findings suggest that over the 2nd year of life, prosocial
             behavior develops from relying on action understanding and
             explicit communications to understanding others' emotions
             from subtle cues. Developmental trajectories of
             social-cognitive and motivational components of early
             helping are discussed.},
   Doi = {10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01512.x},
   Key = {fds318792}

   Author = {Nichols, SR and Svetlova, M and Brownell, CA},
   Title = {Toddlers' understanding of peers' emotions.},
   Journal = {The Journal of Genetic Psychology},
   Volume = {171},
   Number = {1},
   Pages = {35-53},
   Year = {2010},
   Month = {January},
   url = {},
   Abstract = {The second year of life sees dramatic developments in
             infants' ability to understand emotions in adults alongside
             their growing interest in peers. In this study, the authors
             used a social-referencing paradigm to examine whether 12-,
             18-, and 24-month-old children could use a peer's positive
             or negative emotion messages about toys to regulate their
             own behavior with the toys. They found that 12-month-olds
             decreased their play with toys toward which a peer had
             expressed either positive or negative emotion compared with
             play following a peer's neutral attention toward a toy.
             Also, 18-month-olds did not respond systematically, but
             24-month-old children increased their toy play after
             watching a peer display negative affect toward the toy.
             Regardless of their age, children with siblings decreased
             their play with toys toward which they had seen a peer
             display fear, the typical social-referencing response. The
             authors discuss results in the context of developmental
             changes in social understanding and peer interaction over
             the second year of life.},
   Doi = {10.1080/00221320903300346},
   Key = {fds318793}

   Author = {Nichols, SR and Svetlova, M and Brownell, CA},
   Title = {The role of social understanding and empathic disposition in
             young children's responsiveness to distress in parents and
   Journal = {Cognition, Brain, Behavior : an Interdisciplinary
   Volume = {13},
   Number = {4},
   Pages = {449-478},
   Year = {2009},
   Month = {December},
   Abstract = {The second year of life marks the beginning of empathic
             responsiveness to others' distress, a hallmark of human
             interaction. We examined the role of social understanding
             (self-other understanding and emotion understanding) and
             empathic disposition in individual differences in 12- to
             24-month olds' responses to mothers' and an unfamiliar
             infant peer's distress (N = 71). Results reveal associations
             between empathic responsiveness to distressed mother and
             crying infant peer, suggesting that individual differences
             in prosocial motivation may exist right from the outset,
             when the ability to generate an empathic, prosocial response
             first emerges. We further found that above and beyond such
             dispositional characteristics (and age), children with more
             advanced social understanding were more empathically
             responsive to a peer's distress. However, responses to
             mothers' distress were explained by children's empathic
             disposition only, and not by their social understanding.
             Thus, as early as the second year of life some children are
             dispositionally more inclined to empathy regardless of who
             is in distress, whether mother or peer. At the same time,
             emotion understanding and self-other understanding appear to
             be especially important for explaining individual
             differences in young children's empathic responsiveness to a
             peer's distress.},
   Key = {fds318794}

   Author = {Brownell, CA and Svetlova, M and Nichols, S},
   Title = {To share or not to share: When do toddlers respond to
             another's needs?},
   Journal = {Infancy},
   Volume = {14},
   Number = {1},
   Pages = {117-130},
   Year = {2009},
   Month = {January},
   url = {},
   Abstract = {The developmental origins of sharing remain little
             understood. Using procedures adapted from research on
             prosocial behavior in chimpanzees, we presented 18- and
             25-month-old children with a sharing task in which they
             could choose to deliver food to themselves only, or to both
             themselves and another person, thereby making it possible
             for them to share without personal sacrifice. The potential
             recipient, a friendly adult, was either silent about her
             needs and wants or made them explicit. Both younger and
             older toddlers chose randomly when the recipient was silent.
             However, when the recipient vocalized her desires
             25-month-olds shared whereas younger children did not. Thus,
             we demonstrate that children voluntarily share valued
             resources with others by the end of the second year of life,
             but that this depends on explicit communicative cues about
             another's need or desire.},
   Doi = {10.1080/15250000802569868},
   Key = {fds318795}

%% Chapters in Books   
   Author = {Svetlova, M and Carpenter, M},
   Title = {Social Development},
   Pages = {415-423},
   Booktitle = {The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Child Development},
   Publisher = {Cambridge University Press},
   Editor = {Hopkins, B and Geangu, E and Linkenauger, S},
   Year = {2017},
   Month = {October},
   ISBN = {110710341X},
   Abstract = {Updated and expanded to 124 entries, The Cambridge
             Encyclopedia of Child Development remains the authoritative
             reference in the field.},
   Key = {fds340664}

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