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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Dec 2;111(48):17071-4. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1419408111. Epub 2014 Nov 17.

Rethinking natural altruism: simple reciprocal interactions trigger children's benevolence.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305 dweck@stanford.edu cortes@stanford.edu.

Abstract

A very simple reciprocal activity elicited high degrees of altruism in 1- and 2-y-old children, whereas friendly but nonreciprocal activity yielded little subsequent altruism. In a second study, reciprocity with one adult led 1- and 2-y-olds to provide help to a new person. These results question the current dominant claim that social experiences cannot account for early occurring altruistic behavior. A third study, with preschool-age children, showed that subtle reciprocal cues remain potent elicitors of altruism, whereas a fourth study with preschoolers showed that even a brief reciprocal experience fostered children's expectation of altruism from others. Collectively, the studies suggest that simple reciprocal interactions are a potent trigger of altruism for young children, and that these interactions lead children to believe that their relationships are characterized by mutual care and commitment.

KEYWORDS:

altruism; morality; reciprocity; social development

PMID:
25404334
PMCID:
PMC4260564
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1419408111
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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