Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hard Wired to be Helpful

Studies by Felix Warneken and Michael Tomasello have led them to believe that some level of altruism may be hard wired into the human brain. Children as young as 14 months of age were observed helping another altruistically. For example, without any encouragement or praise, these little kids picked up an object that someone accidentally dropped and handed it back to them. Sometimes they did this even when the children themselves needed to stop an activity that they enjoyed doing. Children as young as 12 months old also were willing to share information freely. If someone was looking for an object and the children knew where it was, they pointed to it. Interestingly and perhaps unfortunately in some situations, these innate altruistic behaviors appear to be influenced by social experience and cultural transmission. By the age of three, some children begin to show signs of inhibiting some of this natural altruistic behavior, becoming more discriminating about whom they will help (not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself), tending to share more often with those who have shared with them in the past.

Note:  After extensive research, it appears the option to automatically link blogs to Facebook no longer exists. I am committed to manually posting my daily blog to Facebook. When this is impossible, however, remember that you can access my Brain Blogs (and even send automatically to your own email address) from my website homepage:

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