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.

Related Articles


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 November 28, 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 November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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