Topoi 38 (1):173-183 (2019)

John Michael
University of Warwick
In recent years, developmental psychologists have increasingly been interested in various forms of prosocial behavior observed in infants and young children—in particular comforting, sharing, pointing to provide information, and spontaneous instrumental helping. We briefly review several models that have been proposed to explain the psychological mechanisms underpinning these behaviors. Focusing on spontaneous instrumental helping, we home in on models based upon what Paulus :77–81, 2014) has dubbed ‘goal-alignment’, i.e. the idea that the identification of an agent’s goal leads infants to take up that goal as their own. We identify a problem with the most well-known model based upon this idea, namely the ‘goal contagion’ model. The problem arises from the way in which the model specifies the content of the goal which is identified and taken up. We then propose an alternative way of specifying the content of the goal, and use this as a starting point for articulating an alternative model based upon the idea of alignment, namely the ‘goal slippage’ model. By elucidating the difference between goal contagion and goal slippage, we contribute to the articulation of experimental criteria for assessing whether and when the mechanisms specified by these two models are at work.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11245-017-9485-5
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 59,759
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

A Natural History of Human Morality.Michael Tomasello (ed.) - 2016 - Harvard University Press.

View all 23 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Sharing and Ascribing Goals.Pierre Jacob - 2012 - Mind and Language 27 (2):200-227.
Goal-Directed Systems.Frederick Ray Adams - 1982 - Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
Cybernetics and the Problem of Goals.E. Kh Gimel'shteib - 1966 - Russian Studies in Philosophy 4 (4):49-55.


Added to PP index

Total views
14 ( #693,346 of 2,432,579 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
7 ( #97,149 of 2,432,579 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes