< /head > Colorado Coalition for Human Rights: Altruistic Infants and Human Nature

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Altruistic Infants and Human Nature

A recent German study demonstrates that children show signs of altruism at very early ages. While I remember reading about this study earlier this year, I just thought about posting on it today. This is definitly interesting and has far ranging implications. Here's a portion of the an article about the study:

Infants already show signs that they want to help out adults without expecting anything in return, says a German study on altruism.

"The results were astonishing because these children are so young – they still wear diapers and are barely able to use language," said psychology researcher Felix Warneken of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, "But they already show helping behaviour."

As part of the study, Warneken developed scenarios in which an adult needed help. In one case, he dropped a clothespin on the floor while hanging up laundry.

In 84 per cent of cases, infants as young as 18 months, who were not familiar with Warneken, would help retrieve the peg.

During the test, he never asked for help. He also did not thank or reward the child, since the study was designed to show if the toddlers could show altruistic behaviour.

When he deliberately threw a peg on the ground, the infants didn't help to retrieve it. That suggests the babies were able to infer when the peg was needed to complete the task of hanging up clothes.

Click here to access the full article about the study from CBS News.

To access the original study and see videos of the expieriments click here.

--Tom Hayes


Blogger Donald Douglas said...

I've got a post up at my site, Burkean Reflections, on Jerome Slater's recent Political Science Quarterly article making the case for the justified use of torture in the War on Terror. Check it out!

4:16 PM  

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