Director’s Notes – January 2019

Bower Knowledge

Do we have to teach Kindness?

Parents are often concerned that they must teach their children to be generous and share, yet authors Ankin, Hamlin and Dunn (2012) suggest that socialization may well be complemented by an evolved response for humans to find pro-social behaviour “self-rewarding”. If this is true, the ‘warm glow’ we receive from pro-social acts would be present very early in development.

The authors tested their hypothesis and found that even before two, toddlers showed greater happiness when giving treats to others than receiving them and that they are happier forfeiting their own resources than giving the same treat with no cost to themselves. This suggests that although pro-social behaviour is costly to the individual the positive emotion that accompanies it is approximate mechanism for human co-operation. Sometimes the best parenting is supporting what comes naturally.

Aknin LB, Hamlin JK, Dunn EW (2012) Giving Leads to Happiness in Young Children. PLoS ONE 7(6): e39211. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039211

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