Altruism at children is connected with aspiration to equality of
the Author: Alexander Markov
Almost all children till 3-4 years behave as absolute egoists, however by 7-8 years they begin to think also of others. The European psychologists established that the care of the neighbor at children is caused not so much by disinterested desire to help how many egalitarianism - aspiration to equality. Along with egalitarianism at children the parokhializm - primary care of members " develops; the “ social group, and at boys this line is expressed stronger, than at girls. The received results will be coordinated with the theory according to which at primitive people altruism, egalitarianism and a parokhializm developed in parallel under the influence of the same defining factor - the frequent intergroup conflicts.
Altruism is widespread in fauna and occurs even at bacteria what repeatedly reported " about; " Elements;. In most cases, however, the altruistic behavior at animals or is directed to close relatives (that well is explained by the theory of related selection), or based on the principle “ you to me - I to you “ (so-called “ retsiprokny altruism “) . Rather disinterested care of not relatives in the nature meets very seldom (see the Chimpanzee are capable to disinterested mutual aid, “ " Elements; 13. 03. 2006). There are bases to believe that the person - nearly only species of animals at which such behavior gained noticeable development. However, and people help " much more willingly; the “ than “ stranger “ though concept “ the “ for us not always coincides with the concept “ relative “.
Recently the interesting theory according to which altruism at people developed under the influence of the frequent intergroup conflicts (see was offered: Choi J. K., Bowles S. The coevolution of parochial altruism and war//Science. 2007. V. 318. P. 636-640). According to this theory, altruism at our ancestors was directed generally to members “ the “ groups (herd). By means of mathematical models it was shown that altruism could develop only in a complex with a so-called parokhializm - hostility to strangers. In the conditions of continuous wars with neighbors the combination of intra group altruism to a parokhializm provides the greatest chances of a survival and successful reproduction of an individual. It turns out that such, apparently, opposite properties of the person as kindness and eagerness to fight, developed in a uniform complex: neither that, nor other of these lines separately would bring benefit to the owners (see also: The intergroup competition promotes intra group cooperation, “ " Elements; 28. 05. 2007).
The facts which can be received, in particular, by means of psychological experiments are necessary for verification of this theory. Strangely enough, we still know very little about how there is a formation of altruism and a parokhializm in process of children. The work of the Swiss and German psychologists published in Nature last issue partly meets this lack.
229 Swiss children aged from 3 till 8 years among which there were no close relatives took part in experiment. Each child asked to perform three simple tasks.
In the first case the child had to choose one of two options: or he will receive candy, and other child will not, or both will be given on candy (distribution 1,1 or 1,0). Here the desire to do good to another without any damage to itself was checked (as the examinee received one candy irrespective of the choice made by it).
In the second case it was necessary to choose between options 1,1 and 1,2. The examinee received one candy irrespective of the decision made by him also this time, however depended on it how many candies will give another: one or two. This " test; on envy “ it was necessary, in particular, to open true motives of those children who in the first test chose option 1,1. Why they “ awarded “ to another candy? Those children who just wished well to another, will choose option 1,2 in the second test (it can be interpreted as aspiration to maximize the benefit received by another). The same who chose in the first test option 1,1 from - for love to equality and justice in the second test have to choose option 1,1 too. It is dishonest if I am given only one candy, and to it two.
In the third case the choice was the most difficult: to take two candies to itself or to divide them equally (1,1 or 2,0). Here the child could provide the neighbor with candy only with damage to himself, and it is already true altruism.
All tests were anonymous: the child did not know with whom exactly to him suggest to share. Showed it the photo of the whole group of children and explained that someone will get candy to one of them. Besides, the child was convinced that nobody learns about his decision and therefore there will be neither offenses, nor gratitude. Thus scientists tried to exclude any egoistical motives (retsiprokny altruism, fear to spoil with someone the relations, etc.), by which the child can be guided, sharing candies in real life.
To find out a situation with a parokhialnost, researchers used two types of group photos. In one case in a picture there were children from the same class or group of kindergarten, as the examinee (a situation “ the “). In other case used the photo of unfamiliar children (a situation “ stranger “) .
Such combination of tests allowed to obtain very detailed and reliable information about motives of social behavior of children.
At first researchers analysed results of tests for a situation “ the “.
It became clear that most of three - and four-year-old children behave as absolute egoists. Making the choice, the small child pays attention only to that how many he will get candies. Destiny anonymous “ partner “ for it it is absolutely indifferent. In the first and second tests the child - the egoist chooses one of two options at random, in a random way, and in the third always takes both candies to himself. According to it at three - and four-year-old children the frequency of the choice of any of two options in tests 1 and 2 statistically did not differ from 50%, and in the test 3 only 8,7% of children chose option 1,1, that is shared with the partner.
For children at the age of 5-6 years results of the first test were same. Small increase in a share of the children choosing option 1,1 was outlined in the second test (that is those who, having received one candy, do not want that to another got two). The third test revealed the small growth of number of the children ready to share with the anonymous partner (22%).
The situation appeared sharply other in the senior age group (7-8 years). Nearly a half (45%) of children of this age showed altruistic behavior (shared candy) in the test 3. In the test 1 vast majority of children (78%) chose option 1,1, that is showed care of the neighbor without prejudice to themselves. The test 2 opened true motives of this care. 80% of children in the second test chose option 1,1, that is did not wish that other child got excess candy. From this authors draw a conclusion that the care of others revealed in tests 1 and 3 is based not on desire to do a good maximum to the neighbor, and on aspiration to equality and justice. This aspiration is shown in what children reject “ dishonest “ sharing both in the, and in foreign advantage.
Still it was talked of results of the separate analysis of three tests. Additional information was given by consideration of all three tests together. It allowed to divide children into 5 groups (...):
1) “ meanies “ chosen that option at which the partner gets least of all candies in all three tests;
2) “ good-natured persons “ always choosing that option at which the partner receives the maximum number of candies;
3) the children who chose the best options for the partner in tests 1 and 2 but which refused to share in the test 3 that is ready to do good only until it does not demand the victims from their party (“ moderate good-natured persons “) ;
4) “ fans of justice “ which always divide candies equally;
5) “ moderate fans of justice “ - those who choose equal sharing in tests 1 and 2, but arrive selfishly in the test 3 when for the sake of “ justice celebrations “ it should offer candy.
Share “ meanies “ among children from 3 to 6 years makes 22%; at the age of 7-8 years it is reduced to 14%. Authors note what approximately as much harmful persons is also among adults.
Share “ good-natured persons “ strangely enough, does not change with age: such selflessly kind children there were about 5% in all age groups. Share “ moderate good-natured persons “ it is reduced from 39% at the age of 3-4 years to 11% in 7-8 years.
Share “ fans of justice “ promptly grows with age: from 4% in younger age group to 30% in senior. Grows as well a share “ moderate fans of justice “ (from 17% to 30%).
These results set thinking. What role is played in our society 5% of good-natured persons whether they give us moral reference points, whether on them the world keeps? And if so, why their only 5%? Perhaps, because excessive reproduction of selfless altruists creates too favorable environment for egoists who will parasitize on others kindness? From these positions there is clear also a key role “ fans of justice “: they constrain parasitism development.
Scientists also established that the children having brothers or sisters are divided candies into 28% less willingly, than the only children in a family. Besides, younger brothers and sisters show desire to share for 17% less than seniors. Thus, presence of brothers and sisters, especially senior, does not promote altruism development.
Interesting results were received in the analysis of tests in which “ anonymous partner “ there was an unfamiliar child (a situation “ stranger “). In general, as one would expect, children showed much less care of unfamiliar partners, than about “ the “ and it is fair for all age groups. In younger age group (3-4 years) this distinction comes to light only in the test 1, in average - in tests 1 and 2, and in senior - in tests 1 and 3.
The most contrast picture turned out in the separate analysis of the results shown by boys and girls in the test 2 (“ check on envy “). Girls, as it became clear, practically do not do distinctions between personal and others` in this test (...) . In 3-4 years for them it is indifferent how many candies the partner will receive (frequency of the choice of any of options about 50%); in 5-6 years egalitarianism begins to be shown: 70-80% of girls choose option 1,1 and reject option 1,2, that is do not allow the partner to receive excess candy. Any preference “ the “ at the same time it is not observed.
Boys, on the contrary, in 3-4 years absolutely differently belong to “ the “ and “ stranger “. “ The “ they very willingly allow to receive excess candy (about 80% of boys option 1,2 chooses). To strangers such gift is made by only about 50% of boys of younger age group. In 5-6 years the generosity in relation to the remains whereas in relation to strangers the strong feeling of jealousy develops. In 7-8 years boys begin “ to observe justice “ as well in relation to the, however and at this age they award to strangers excess candy much more less than the.
The received results allow to allocate “ aspiration to equality “ (egalitarianism) as one of the major factors, regulating social behavior at people. There are strong reasons to believe that this property of mentality has partly the hereditary nature, that is is genetically determined in some measure (see: Wallace B., Cesarini D., Lichtenstein P., Johannesson M. Heritability of ultimatum game responder behavior//Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA. 2007. V. 104. P. 15631-15634). It is curious that nothing similar to aspiration to equality still was succeeded to find in a chimpanzee and other primacies. It is not excluded that this property is characteristic only of the person.
Authors note that the results received by them very well will be coordinated with the theory of joint development of altruism and a parokhializm described above under the influence of the intense intergroup competition. It is not excluded that evolutionary history of formation of these properties of human mentality in general repeats during individual development of children. It is characteristic that altruism and a parokhializm develop at children more or less at the same time. As men were the main participants of the intergroup conflicts and wars always, it is represented quite natural that the parokhializm is stronger expressed at boys, than at girls. In the conditions of primitive life of the man - soldiers were personally interested in that not only they, but also other men of the tribe were in good physical shape: there was no sense “ to observe justice “ at their expense. As for women, in case of defeat of group in the intergroup conflict their chances of successful reproduction decreased, most likely, not so strongly, as at men. For women of a consequence of such defeat could be limited only to change of the sexual partner whereas men could die, sustain heavy injuries or be left without wives. In case of the woman`s victory won obviously less too, than men who could capture captives, for example.
Certainly, authors of research realize that the properties of children`s mentality studied by them in many respects depend not only on genes, but also on education, that is are a product not only biological, but also cultural evolution. What, however, does not do the received results less interesting and informative. Eventually, laws and driving forces of biological and cultural evolution, according to a number of authors, are in many respects similar, and processes can flow smoothly each other. For example, the new behavioural sign can pass first from father to son by means of training and imitation, and then to be fixed gradually also in genes.
Source: Ernst Fehr, Helen Bernhard, Bettina Rockenbach. Egalitarianism in young children//Nature. 2008. V. 454. P. 1079-1083.
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