Current Weather
The Spy FM

Little Kids Know How To Share, But Don’t Want To

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
March 21, 2013

Small children aren’t great at sharing, as any parent or preschool teacher knows. But little kids get cut a lot of slack on the presumption that they don’t know any better.

Well, the jig is up. Researchers have found that 3-year-olds know darned well that sharing is the right thing to do. But when given the chance to share stickers with another child, they hoarded instead.

That flipped around by age 8, the children shared stickers, giving half to another child.

In the past few years, developmental psychologists have been intensely interested in how humans develop altruism and other positive behaviors.

Craig Smith, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, is trying to nail down when and how those altruistic impulses develop. So he gave 102 children the chance to share, and tracked what they did and said.

“Maybe little kids think, ‘I know I should share equally, but why should I?’ ” Smith says. “There’s a sort of cynicism.”

Nope. Smith’s littlest test subjects were optimists, predicting that other children would share stickers with them.

Well, maybe they really meant to share, but at the last minute just couldn’t stand to see those brightly colored scratch-and-sniff stickers go. They were too impulsive.

But when asked, the youngest children correctly predicted all along that they weren’t going to share. It was like a miniature version of the reality show Hoarders.

“They’re showing a funny sense of self-awareness,” Smith tellls Shots. His results were published online in the journal PLOS One.

In interviews with the children, it became clear that they had vastly different approaches to the prospect of giving two of their four stickers to someone else, depending on their age. The 3-year-olds got sucked into desire, while the older children stayed focused on fairness.

“The littlest kids were talking about what they wanted. ‘I love stickers, I want stickers, I don’t have enough,’ ” Smith says. “The oldest kids were saying, ‘I think it would be fair if I did it this way, it would be the nice thing to do, I want the other kids to be happy.’”

It’s enough to make one wonder if some investment bankers never made it out of preschool.

The good news for parents is that the children do get better at sharing with age. “It’s not something that parents or adults have to stress out about; it comes online,” he says. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

Leave a Reply

11AM to 12PM The Story

The Story

The Story with Dick Gordon brings the news home through first-person accounts. The live weekday program is passionate, personal, immediate and relevant to listeners, focusing on the news where it changes our lives, causes us to stop and rethink, inspires us.

Listen Live Now!

12PM to 1PM Fresh Air

Fresh Air

This one-hour program features Terry Gross' in-depth interviews with prominent cultural and entertainment figures, as well as distinguished experts on current affairs and news.

View the program guide!

1PM to 2PM Talk of the Nation

Talk of the Nation

Journalist Neal Conan leads a productive exchange of ideas and opinions on the issues that dominate the news landscape.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center