Kids learn to share by age 7-8, study finds
Parents concerned about the selfish tendencies of their young children can breathe a sigh of relief. They may not be full-blown psychopaths just yet.
A new study suggests the concept of sharing is learned later than once thought, around age 7 or 8. This comes as good news for many parents, I would imagine, as ill-behaved preschoolers can now be explained away with reasons other than poor parenting.
An interesting feature of the study is that kids were more apt to share with people they knew--perhaps suggesting that altruism does indeed exist, so long as the person on the receiving end of the goodwill isn't a stranger.
Children may first learn about sharing when in pre-school, but a new study shows the behaviour doesn't take root until they are into the second grade.
Swiss and German researchers studied the behaviour of 229 Swiss children and found that while kids aged three to four showed no tendencies to think beyond their own needs, children aged seven to eight had developed a sense of fairness and understanding of inequality, which led them to share more often with other children.
In a finding that echoed a similar study with capuchin monkeys published Tuesday, the researchers also found the tendency to share was much more prevalent when the child knew the person they were sharing with.
The researchers also found the children were 15 to 20 per cent more likely to chose the egalitarian option if they knew their companion, suggesting a desire to share is shaped by a preference for members of one's own social group.
"These results indicate that human egalitarianism and parochialism have deep developmental roots," researchers wrote.