Feel good, do good? Subjective well-being and sharing behavior among children

Hagit Sabato, Tehila Kogut*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The current study examined the association between children's subjective well-being (SWB) and their sharing behavior. School children (second and fifth graders) were interviewed in private and had an opportunity to share candy with a recipient under one of two between-participants conditions: Perceived–High Obligation (a recipient in poverty) and Perceived–Low Obligation (a temporarily needy recipient). Results provide initial evidence of an increased association between SWB and sharing decisions with age; whereas SWB was not significantly correlated with the incidence of sharing by younger children (second graders), it was a positive predictor of sharing behavior among fifth graders. Manipulating the perceived obligation to share (by emphasizing the causes beyond the recipient's need), we found that higher levels of SWB were linked to sharing only in the Perceived–Low Obligation condition. Children with lower SWB behaved as expected by the norm and shared to a similar degree as children with higher SWB when sharing felt obligatory. However, when sharing was less obligatory, higher levels of SWB were linked to higher levels of sharing.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)335-350
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Inc.


  • Children's decision making
  • Dictator game
  • Perceived obligation
  • Prosocial behavior development
  • Sharing behavior
  • Subjective well-being


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