Altruism and Parochialism Among Children and Adolescents: Sex and Age Differences



The article presents the results of an experimental study of altruism and parochialism among school- children in Moscow and the Moscow region. The propensity for prosocial behavior in children was assessed using an experimental technique developed by E. Fehr and adapted earlier in our experiments with children (Tanzania). A sample of the study consists of 379 children and adolescents (192 boys and 187 girls) aged 7 to 17 years. Schoolchildren made decisions in six proposed dilemmas — prosocial behavior, envy and altruism. The aim of the study was to identify the sex and age characteristics of altruistic and parochial behavior of children and adolescents from schools in Moscow and the Moscow region. The results of the research show that girls were more prosocial in making decisions in relation to unfamiliar peers in one of the experimental games. But the age of the schoolchildren was more important predictor than sex in decision of the allocation of resources. With age, students were more altruistic in relation to friends and unfamiliar peers. The most important factor influencing altruistic behavior turned out to be belonging to one’s own group (friend- ship) — a significant parochial effect was observed in all six dilemmas.

General Information

Keywords: altruism, parochialism, friendship, children and adolescents, prosocial behavior, envy, fairness, Moscow schoolchildren

Journal rubric: Developmental Psychology

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The reported study was funded by Russian Science Foundation (grant No 18-18-00075).

Acknowledgements. The authors are grateful for participation all schoolchildren, teachers, and the administration of the Onufrievskaya Secondary School and the Kostrov Secondary School, especially the directors of the schools — Natalya Fedorovna Korolchenko and Maria Viktorovna Platonova — for the high degree of organization of the research process and their friendly attitude in schools. The authors are also grateful to the schoolchildren and the administration of Moscow schools who took part in our study.

For citation: Burkova V.N., Butovskaya M.L., Dronova D.A., Adam Y.I. Altruism and Parochialism Among Children and Adolescents: Sex and Age Differences. Eksperimental'naâ psihologiâ = Experimental Psychology (Russia), 2021. Vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 50–66. DOI: 10.17759/exppsy.2021140304. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Valentina N. Burkova, PhD in History, Senior Researcher in the Sector of Cross-Cultural Psychology and Human Ethology, Institute Ethnology and Anthropology Russian Academy of Sciences, Lecturer in International Centre of Anthropology, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Marina L. Butovskaya, Doctor of History, Professor, Head of the Sector of Cross-Cultural Psychology and Human Ethology, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IEA RAS), Leading Researcher Training and Research Center of Social Anthropology, Russian State Humanitarian University (RGGU UNCSA), Professor of the Department of Ethnology, Faculty of History, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Daria A. Dronova, Junior Researcher of Center of Cross-Cultural Psychology and Human Ethology, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Yulia I. Adam, Junior Researcher of Center of Cross-Cultural Psychology and Human Ethology, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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