Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Goal Slippage: A Mechanism for Spontaneous Instrumental Helping in Infancy?
Author(s): Michael, John
Székely, Marcell
Contact Email:
Keywords: Prosocial behavior
Joint action
Common coding
Issue Date: Mar-2019
Citation: Michael J & Székely M (2019) Goal Slippage: A Mechanism for Spontaneous Instrumental Helping in Infancy?. Topoi, 38 (1), pp. 173-183.
Abstract: 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 (Child Development Perspectives 8(2):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.
DOI Link: 10.1007/s11245-017-9485-5
Rights: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Licence URL(s):

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Michael-Székely2019_Article_GoalSlippageAMechanismForSpont.pdfFulltext - Published Version714.65 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

This item is protected by original copyright

A file in this item is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.