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Old Aug 27, 2008, 03:25 PM
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Kids may be hardwired to 'share and share alike': study

by Marlowe Hood
2 hours, 28 minutes ago



PARIS (AFP) - Humans are selfish in earliest childhood but by the age of seven or eight are keen to share equally, a developmental change so sudden that it can only be explained, at least in part, by genes, according to a study released Wednesday.

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Behavioural scientists and sociologists have quarrelled for decades as to whether generosity and selfishness are inherited or result from social conditioning.

But new experiments with 229 Swiss children between the ages of three and eight suggest that Homo sapiens is probably somewhere in between: humans look out for No. 1, but also express, if not outright generosity, at least an aversion to inequality.

The study, published in the British journal Nature, could help explain how humans developed the ability to cooperate in large groups of individuals who are unrelated, the researchers say.

The children were asked to take part in three different games.

In each game, the child was confronted with two options as to how to distribute portions of jelly beans and other small sweets.

He or she was faced with another kid, shown only in a photo to avoid complications arising from face-to-face encounters.

One of the options was the same in all three games: divide the sweets equally.

In the first game, the child had the alternate option of keeping a single portion of sweets for himself and giving nothing for the other child.

In the second, more sweets were added, and the child had the option of giving the other child two portions and keeping one.

And in the third game, the child had the choice of taking two portions and leaving the other child empty-handed.

Lead researcher Ernst Fehr of the University of Zurich said the three- and four-year-olds were consistently motivated by self-interest, with almost no regard for the well-being of the other. The next age bracket was almost as selfish.

"But if we look at the seven-to-eight year olds, a different picture emerges," Fehr told AFP.

In the first game, nearly 80 percent of the older kids made sure the other child got the same amount of sweets rather than none at all.

And in the last game, more than 40 percent of them refused to let the other go away with nothing even when they had the opportunity of gaining a double portion by doing so.

By comparison, less than nine percent of three- and four-year-olds were willing to do the same.

But generosity had its limits. In the second game, the older children were reluctant to let their counterpart have twice as many as themselves.

'If I can't have more,' their actions seemed to say, 'I don't see why he or she should.'

In an e-mail exchange with AFP, Fehr said the results suggest that Nature and Nurture jointly shaped behavioural responses, although the study was not designed to calculate the share of each influence.

"I think that both genes and culture play a role," Fehr said. The results, he added, suggest that "social norms of equality can come into being even without extended forms of cultural transmission."

"Nobody would dispute that the sexual maturation of children is driven by biology and genes, so why should other phenotypes -- like those associated with fairness behaviour -- not also be driven by biology and genes?", he asked rhetorically.

At least one result was unexpected, said Fehr: children with no siblings were more, rather than less, generous.

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It's what we expected to find. Those selfish enough to allow their countrymen to suffer deprivation and death, rather than have a responsive gov. are just a little immature. stunted at 3 or 4.
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Old Aug 27, 2008, 04:21 PM
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It's what we expected to find. Those selfish enough to allow their countrymen to suffer deprivation and death, rather than have a responsive gov. are just a little immature. stunted at 3 or 4.
Just wondering...
Did these "generous" kids walk over to another kid and take away HIS stuff and then give it to some other kid?

IF so, sounds like a developing 4 year old Democrat to me.
If the kids just shared what they personally had in order to help teach the other kid how to earn his own stuff, then that sounds like a developing 4 year old Conservative.

HF
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Old Aug 27, 2008, 04:34 PM
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Sounds like another lame attempt to justify communism. At the age of seven or eight, I knew we already understood monetary value when we used to trade cards. You may have let your friend borrow something but you wouldn't let them keep it for nothing.
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Old Aug 27, 2008, 04:44 PM
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The argument that man progressed by cooperation vs. competition is ironclad. His eyes are in front. Therefore, he needed to have friends to cover his back. This is the norm. The rugged individualist, is a strangely hokey, antiquated, farce. Those in the wild west werent even loners. The utopia where you enjoy what you got, and to hell with everyone else, tough toogies, is anything but. I guess to dream of hording all the prettiest marbles, is prolly harmless, unless there are enough of you to impose that outrage you call fairness.
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Old Aug 27, 2008, 09:52 PM
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I believe most of the conclusions. I'm not sure it can be laid on the lap of some "generosity" gene. I think older kids are smarter and more keyed on the feelings of people around them. My personal observation of people who have siblings vs "only" children is at odds with their conclusions....

"At least one result was unexpected, said Fehr: children with no siblings were more, rather than less, generous."

This conclusion leads me to seriously doubt the whole study..
(this may be true when they are children... but as adults it is extraordinarily wrong)

jimbo
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Old Aug 27, 2008, 11:12 PM
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cooperation vs. competition


cooperation for the purpose of competition
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Old Aug 27, 2008, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Eljimb0
I believe most of the conclusions. I'm not sure it can be laid on the lap of some "generosity" gene. I think older kids are smarter and more keyed on the feelings of people around them. My personal observation of people who have siblings vs "only" children is at odds with their conclusions....

"At least one result was unexpected, said Fehr: children with no siblings were more, rather than less, generous."

This conclusion leads me to seriously doubt the whole study..
(this may be true when they are children... but as adults it is extraordinarily wrong)

jimbo

In reality, children get egalitarian to trap their parents as hypocrites. Works quite well, as the kids can make congruent choices. Mom and Dad need to make a living.
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Old Aug 27, 2008, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Gman2
The argument that man progressed by cooperation vs. competition is ironclad. His eyes are in front. Therefore, he needed to have friends to cover his back. This is the norm. The rugged individualist, is a strangely hokey, antiquated, farce. Those in the wild west werent even loners. The utopia where you enjoy what you got, and to hell with everyone else, tough toogies, is anything but. I guess to dream of hording all the prettiest marbles, is prolly harmless, unless there are enough of you to impose that outrage you call fairness.
While I am a big fan of cooperation, mankind did not develop the trait because of our eye position. ALL predators (with the exception of cephalopods) have forward facing eyes; binocular vision being rather important for catching things. But all predators do not cooperate. Most cats, for example (except certain types of lions) do not cooperate.

Cooperation has a physical and a social component, the reasons why humans cooperate lies along both of those lines.

See "The Selfish Gene" for an interesting chapter on this subject.
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Old Aug 28, 2008, 12:07 AM
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The argument that man progressed by cooperation vs. competition is ironclad. His eyes are in front. Therefore, he needed to have friends to cover his back. This is the norm.
If you change the word 'progressed' to 'flourished' I agree 100%. Man in the group will prevail. The group model allows for grunts, big lummox, and a few very clever ones, with lots of nearby breeding stock. Big healthy smart ones will invariably succeed in approriating the pretty ones.. but it only works inside a functioning group. The groups will invariably compete with other groups. (..for the chicks)
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Old Aug 28, 2008, 12:47 AM
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By all accounts, I was the sweetest baby ever. I have video of me still in diapers giving my pacifiers away to my slightly older cousins. I assure you, I wanted nothing in return. And I am most certainly not a liberal. The study must be flawed (or is it the analyis?).
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Old Aug 28, 2008, 05:01 AM
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By all accounts, I was the sweetest baby ever. I have video of me still in diapers giving my pacifiers away to my slightly older cousins. I assure you, I wanted nothing in return. And I am most certainly not a liberal. The study must be flawed (or is it the analyis?).
As in all agenda driven "studies", look to the analysis as the flaw.

In this very thread, we see an "analysis" of how supposedly those with forward facing eyes somehow exhibit traits based on that one feature.
There's your "flawed analysis" for you, and it proves a point that any analysis is accepted (by the analyzer who has an agenda) if it pushes their personal agenda.
Then the analysis is accepted (without question) by others who also share the same agenda. Which brings us full circle back to Global Warming...

HF
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Old Aug 28, 2008, 10:55 AM
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Saw that on a show on anthropology. Sorry. Just because SOME animals that are fast pedators have binocular vision, doesnt extinguish the claim. The fact that we were born without claw or tooth also tells. Even our upright posture makes us a big target. Our social animal status also tells. There are many cultures that it is enough t be exiled to not share, or even worse, have a selfish spirit. Competitiveness is forbidden. Sefishness and competitiveness is a wonderful engine of productivity. But needs taming. In any upbringing. ANY. MANNERS are a lie we tell each other. They convey the false impression that other people are more important than you. Civility is built on this.


Look up potlatch.
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Old Aug 28, 2008, 11:52 AM
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Selfishness is not a trait that will reproduce.. Inside a "group", selfishness would be quickly recognized and punished (probably by sending the offender away and taking all his stuff). Between the groups selfishness does reproduce.. if the group won't share with other groups in tough times.. they will be the ones who make it..

G-man,
Anthropology is a great collection of ideas. Anthropologists count among their ranks some of the most motivated and agenda driven "social engineers" in our world.. Stalin Hitler and Pol Pot were playing with those same matches.
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Old Aug 28, 2008, 12:14 PM
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I think your large parentheses, including despots is [LEAKY]. Anthropology, inevitably has implications to every claim. Those implications, driving the advisability of certain subjects.
Bonobos were ignored in ways during the 60's as we wanted to indict man as a monster. When Goodal saw chimps tear their neighboring tribes members into pieces, it reinforced our belief in angry violent man. These messages get into the zeitgeist. It i'm sure becomes an excuse for many. Mans destiny is also tied to these proclivities. We see instinct in everything we see in animals. AS we analyze a man, we see REASONS for our behavior. It is likely little less instinct than they, we just hate to admit we are animals.
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Old Aug 28, 2008, 12:19 PM
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Totaly agree..
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