November 1, 2012
5 Year Olds Only Generous When Someone’s Watching
Children as young as 5 make strategic decisions about when to behave generously
Children as young as five are generous when others are aware of their actions, but antisocial when sharing with a recipient who can't see them, according to research published Oct. 31 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Kristin Lyn Leimgruber and colleagues from Yale University.
According to the authors, these results show that children as young as five can make strategic choices about whether to be generous, depending on whether or not a recipient is aware of their actions. Leimgruber explains, "Although the frequency with which children acted antisocially is striking, the conditions under which they chose to act generously are even more interesting and suggest that children likely use much more sophisticated prosocial strategies than we previously assumed. Much like the patterns of charity we see in adults, donation tendencies in children appear to be driven by the amount of information available to others about their actions– for both adults and children, the more others know about their actions, the more likely they are to act generously."
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