Altruistic Babies? New Study Shows Hungry Toddlers Will Give Up Food in Order to Help Others

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Altruistic Babies? New Study Shows Hungry Toddlers Will Give Up Food in Order to Help Others Empty Altruistic Babies? New Study Shows Hungry Toddlers Will Give Up Food in Order to Help Others

Post by Thorin on Sun Feb 09, 2020 11:13 am

Altruistic helping—the act of giving away something desirable, even at a cost to oneself—is perhaps most evident when it comes to food.

Human adults often respond to hungry people, whether through food banks or fundraisers, or by simply handing over their lunch. But when does that spirit of giving start?

New research by the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) finds that altruism may begin in infancy. In a study of nearly 100 toddlers who were 19 months-old, researchers found that the children gave a desirable snack to a stranger in need, even when they, themselves, were hungry. The findings not only show that young tots engage in altruistic behavior, but also suggest that early social experiences can shape that altruism.

The study is published online this week in Scientific Reports, an open-access journal from the Nature Publishing Group.

“We think 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 Rodolfo Cortes Barragan, a postdoctoral researcher at I-LABS and lead author on the study. “We adults help each other when we see another in need and we do this even if there is a cost to the self. So we tested the roots of this in infants.”

Non-human primates have been found to cooperate, and to share resources under restricted conditions—but non-human primates, such as chimpanzees, don’t actively hand over delicious food that they need themselves.


https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/new-study-shows-hungry-infants-giving-up-food-to-help-others/

Thorin

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