Happy Helping

Happy Helping

SoCal Lab (University of California, San Diego)

Who Can Participate

10- to 11-month-old babies.

What Happens

This study will take place on a video call, live with a researcher! Clicking on the “Schedule a time to participate” button will send you to an online calendar where you can select a date and time that works for you.

This study asks if babies expect characters who are helpful to each other, to also be happy when the other succeeds. Your baby will watch first watch one of the characters help another, while the other does not. Then your baby will see both the helper and non-helper respond happily to the other shape. We will use gaze tracking to ask: Do babies expect someone who empathizes to also be helpful?

What We're Studying

We know that babies notice when someone helps and when someone hinders someone else. Babies tend to think the helpers are nice. Other research shows that babies also expect friends, but not rivals, to be happy for each other when one succeeds. We don't know whether helping signals friendship and if it does, do babies expect the helper to also be happy when the individual they helped succeeds? Likewise, does hindering someone mean that they're not friends? If so, do babies expect the hinderer to be sad when the individual they hindered succeeds?

In this study, we ask just that: how do babies think about helping and hindering behavior and does it lead to expectations of empathy? This study will help us better understand how babies reason about friendship, empathy, helping, and their relationship to each other.


15 minutes


Participants will receive a $5 Amazon.com gift card for completing the study with an experimenter. The gift card will be sent within 24 hours after the appointment is complete. Only one gift card per participant and the participant must be in the age range for the study to receive the gift card.

This study is conducted by Lindsey Powell (contact: ljpowell@ucsd.edu).

Would you like to participate in this study?