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Scientists discover that the & # 39; spirit of giving & # 39; begins at 19 months of age

Even hungry BABIES will share food with strangers in need: scientists discover that the & # 39; spirit of giving & # 39; begins at 19 months of age

  • US researchers conducted tests to see how altruistic small babies were
  • They imitated dropping fruit on the floor to see if the children returned it
  • More than half did and this number only fell to 37 by the time the children were hungry
  • The team also discovered that children with siblings were more likely to help.

It seems that even hungry babies will share food with needy strangers, as psychologists discover that the "spirit of giving" begins in babies as young as 19 months.

The researchers conducted a test to see if the children would help unknown adults by delivering a tasty fruit, even if they were hungry.

They discovered that more than half of the children normally gave up food, and that number only dropped to 37 percent when the children were hungry.

The findings put our altruism levels above our primate cousins, who are known to cooperate and share restricted resources, but do not deliver food when they are hungry.

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It seems that even hungry babies will share food with strangers in need, as psychologists discover that the "spirit of giving" begins in babies as young as 19 months of age (stock image)

& # 39; We believe that altruism is important to study because it is one of the most distinctive aspects of being human. It is an important part of the moral fabric of society, "said psychologist Rodolfo Cortes Barragán of the University of Washington.

& # 39; Adults help each other when we see someone in need and do this even if there is a cost to oneself. So we tested the roots of this in babies & # 39 ;.

In their study, Dr. Barragan and his colleagues explored whether children would choose to act beyond their own interest when faced with one of life's fundamental needs: food.

In their first experiment, which involved 48 babies around 19.5 months of age, researchers began showing each child a piece of fruit.

These included bananas, blueberries and grapes, and were chosen for being & # 39; child friendly & # 39 ;.

Then, the scientists threw the fruit without any expression to a tray on the floor within reach of the baby and made no effort to recover it, or, alternatively, made a gesture of dropping the food on the tray and then reaching it fruitlessly.

The team discovered that the display of reaching the fruit, which shows the adult's desire for food, can trigger a help response in children, with more than half picking the fruit and returning it to the adult.

On the contrary, only 4 percent of the children returned the fruit when the adult showed no craving.

The researchers performed a test to see if the children would help unknown adults by delivering a tasty fruit, even if they were hungry (stock image)

The researchers performed a test to see if the children would help unknown adults by delivering a tasty fruit, even if they were hungry (stock image)

The researchers performed a test to see if the children would help unknown adults by delivering a tasty fruit, even if they were hungry (stock image)

In a second series of tests, in which a different group of 48 children aged 19.5 months participated, the children participated just before the snack or the routine meal, to ensure that they would be hungry.

This allowed researchers to repeat the first test in conditions where the cost of being altruistic was higher, since children would be more motivated to take the fruit for themselves.

However, they found that the results were not different from the first study, since 37 percent of the babies offered the food to the researcher if the latter looked for it.

"The babies in this second study eagerly looked at the fruit and then gave it away!" said paper co-author and psychologist Andrew Meltzoff.

"We believe this captures a kind of baby version of altruistic help," he added.

The researchers also analyzed whether children were more likely to help the test be repeated more often, and found that each baby performed as well in its first test as in subsequent iterations.

According to Dr. Barragan, this reveals that children do not need to learn how to help during the study, but show an inclination to spontaneously and repeatedly help an unknown relative.

The team also discovered that altruism seems malleable among babies, and those from certain cultural backgrounds and siblings are more likely to help.

"We believe that certain family and social experiences make a difference, and ongoing research would be desirable to better understand what maximizes the expression of altruism in young children," said Dr. Barragan.

"If we can discover how to promote the altruism of our children, this could lead us to a more supportive society."

The full findings of the study were published in the journal. Scientific reports.

What is social intelligence?

Social intelligence is the ability to handle complex social situations through empathy and the ability to know oneself and others.

It includes features such as taking into account the perspectives of others, being adaptable, managing one's impressions and adhering to established social norms.

Social intelligence defines our ability to assume a complex socialization, which includes politics, romance, family relationships, arguments, collaboration and altruism.

While intelligence & # 39; traditional & # 39; It is the ability to acquire knowledge and skills, and is largely determined at birth, experts say that social intelligence is a mainly learned skill built through experience.

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