Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New studies link gene to selfish behavior in kids, find other children natural givers

Date:
February 27, 2013
Source:
University of Notre Dame
Summary:
Most parents would agree that raising a generous child is an admirable goal -- but how, exactly, is that accomplished? New results shed light on how generosity and related behaviors -- such as kindness, caring and empathy -- develop, or don't develop, in children from 2 years old through adolescence.

Most parents would agree that raising a generous child is an admirable goal -- but how, exactly, is that accomplished? New results from the University of Notre Dame's Science of Generosity initiative, which funds generosity research around the world, sheds light on how generosity and related behaviors -- such as kindness, caring and empathy -- develop, or don't develop, in children from 2 years old through adolescence.
Credit: tomozina1 / Fotolia

Most parents would agree that raising a generous child is an admirable goal -- but how, exactly, is that accomplished? New results from the University of Notre Dame's Science of Generosity initiative, which funds generosity research around the world, shed light on how generosity and related behaviors -- such as kindness, caring and empathy -- develop, or don't develop, in children from 2 years old through adolescence.

As part of Notre Dame's Science of Generosity-funded research, psychology professor Ariel Knafo of Hebrew University focused on the complex interactions between genetics and socialization practices, more commonly known as the "nature v. nurture" question. Knafo's study, published in PLoS ONE, showed a significant link between a particular gene variation and less altruistic behavior in preschoolers. Those with a genetic variation known as the AVPR1A RS3 327 bp allele exhibited lower allocations in dictator game experiments, in which the first player (the "proposer") determines the split of an endowment, such as a cash prize. The second player (the "responder"), who has no strategic input into the outcome of the game, passively receives the remainder of the endowment left by the proposer.

In another Notre Dame-funded study, Harvard University psychology professor Felix Warneken found that children as young as two years old begin to exhibit spontaneous helping behavior, which challenges the conventional wisdom that young children are innately selfish and have to be "taught" to give. According to a study published in Cognition, young children can be natural, proactive helpers, often willing to help others without being asked and while involved in their own tasks.

In a separate study, Warneken found that children's sharing behavior is more sophisticated than once thought and suggests that children as young as three years old begin to consider merit when sharing with others, even if that consideration costs them cherished resources.

While Warneken and Knafo focus on generosity in young children, economist Mark Ottoni-Wilhelm, of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, examined how older children up to the age of 13 learn to be generous or not.

Ottoni-Wilhelm explored the ways in which parents transmit their generous identities to their school-age and adolescent children. Until now, the consensus has been that role modeling was more effective than verbal socialization when it came to raising generous children; but the experiments that led to those conclusions were conducted in laboratory settings, and Wilhelm wanted to see whether role modeling or verbal socialization was more effective in the setting where it was most likely to happen: the home.

There he found that talking with children about giving raises the probability of their giving by 18.5 percent over not talking to them about it. He did not find that role modeling increased the probability of their giving, except among non-African-American girls. Evidence suggests that over time parents tend to stop talking about giving to their children.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Notre Dame. The original article was written by Susan Guibert and JP Shortall. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Reut Avinun, Salomon Israel, Idan Shalev, Inga Gritsenko, Gary Bornstein, Richard P. Ebstein, Ariel Knafo. AVPR1A Variant Associated with Preschoolers' Lower Altruistic Behavior. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (9): e25274 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025274
  2. Patricia Kanngiesser, Felix Warneken. Young Children Consider Merit when Sharing Resources with Others. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (8): e43979 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043979

Cite This Page:

University of Notre Dame. "New studies link gene to selfish behavior in kids, find other children natural givers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130227102940.htm>.
University of Notre Dame. (2013, February 27). New studies link gene to selfish behavior in kids, find other children natural givers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130227102940.htm
University of Notre Dame. "New studies link gene to selfish behavior in kids, find other children natural givers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130227102940.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins