Kids Learn to Work Together Early, Study Finds

TUESDAY Feb. 15, 2011 -- Some adults may want to take a lesson from young children who've demonstrated that even at the early age of 3, children have a sense of what's fair, researchers say.

The study authors found that children shared with each other after working together to earn a reward, even in circumstances where it would have been easy for one child to keep all of the prize without sharing.

In the study, prizes such as gummy bears and stickers were placed on a board with wheels inside a transparent box. If only one child pulled on a rope, the board would not move. Both children had to pull together to bring the prizes to a spot where they could be reached through openings in the box.

Sometimes there was only one opening and other times there were two. When there was only one opening, there was an opportunity for one child to monopolize the prizes. However, the children almost always shared equally, according to the study published in the February issue of the journal Psychological Science.

"We were surprised that this rule was so strict -- that equality was so strongly preferred," study coauthor Felix Warneken of Harvard University said in a journal news release.

Some previous research has suggested that young children might not be good at sharing, but those studies usually depended on asking children what they would do in a hypothetical situation or giving them only one opportunity to share with each other.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about family dynamics.

Posted: February 2011


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