Posts Tagged ‘Lara Aknin’

Study Reveals Children Aren’t Selfish After All

June 21, 2012

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the results of a study that found that children aren’t in fact selfish:

A new study from the University of B.C. shows kids might be generous and giving because it makes them happy, contrary to the popular belief children are inherently selfish.

Adults report feeling better when spending money on other people instead of themselves and research shows the part of the brain that processes rewards is activated when donating to charity.

Three UBC researchers hypothesized very young children — under age two — experience similar emotional benefits from generosity. For adults, the happiness that results from giving could be caused by many things, like conforming with social pressure or receiving rewards.

“But looking at young kids helps us get a little closer to understanding whether this is something rooted in human nature or not,” said Lara Aknin, a PhD in social psychology. Aknin designed the study with her UBC thesis supervisor, Elizabeth Dunn, and developmental psychologist Kiley Hamlin.

This is the first study to look at the emotional benefits of giving in young children.

Aknin cited news and parenting websites that argue young kids are innately selfish and self-absorbed, and she admitted some studies have shown kids can be territorial with their possessions.

“But you also don’t have to look far to see really young kids wanting to share their soggy Cheerios,” she said. “There is this dichotomy when we look at kids, and I think most people’s assumptions are that kids are self-oriented and hoard things for themselves.”

It just goes to show how effectively adults can model good behaviour.

Click here to read my post on teaching children to be grateful.


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