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Giving leads to happiness in young children.

Aknin LB, Hamlin JK, Dunn EW - PLoS ONE (2012)

Bottom Line: The "warm glow" that often follows prosocial acts could provide one such mechanism; if so, these emotional benefits may be observable very early in development.Consistent with this hypothesis, the present study finds that before the age of two, toddlers exhibit greater happiness when giving treats to others than receiving treats themselves.By documenting the emotionally rewarding properties of costly prosocial behavior among toddlers, this research provides initial support for the claim that experiencing positive emotions when giving to others is a proximate mechanism for human cooperation.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Psychology Department, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. laknin@psych.ubc.ca

ABSTRACT
Evolutionary models of cooperation require proximate mechanisms that sustain prosociality despite inherent costs to individuals. The "warm glow" that often follows prosocial acts could provide one such mechanism; if so, these emotional benefits may be observable very early in development. Consistent with this hypothesis, the present study finds that before the age of two, toddlers exhibit greater happiness when giving treats to others than receiving treats themselves. Further, children are happier after engaging in costly giving--forfeiting their own resources--than when giving the same treat at no cost. By documenting the emotionally rewarding properties of costly prosocial behavior among toddlers, this research provides initial support for the claim that experiencing positive emotions when giving to others is a proximate mechanism for human cooperation.

Show MeSH
Five phases of the main experiment.Toddlers were (a) introduced to a puppet and (b) given eight treats. Then, in counterbalanced order, each toddler (c) watched as the experimenter gave one treat to the puppet, (d) was asked to give a “found” treat to the puppet, and (e) was asked to give one of their own treats to the puppet.
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pone-0039211-g002: Five phases of the main experiment.Toddlers were (a) introduced to a puppet and (b) given eight treats. Then, in counterbalanced order, each toddler (c) watched as the experimenter gave one treat to the puppet, (d) was asked to give a “found” treat to the puppet, and (e) was asked to give one of their own treats to the puppet.

Mentions: After the warm-up, participants moved to the testing phase. Children were (a) introduced to a new puppet (“Monkey”), encouraged to touch it, and told it liked treats. The experimenter said “Both you and Monkey have no treats right now,” to draw children’s attention to the limited nature of this resource. The experimenter then (b) “found” eight treats, said they were all for the child, and placed them all in the child’s bowl. Next, the experimenter (c) “found” a treat and gave it to the puppet, (d) “found” another treat and asked the child to give it to the puppet, and (e) asked the child to give the puppet a treat from the child’s own bowl (see Figure 2). Participants’ happiness during each phase was coded by the same research assistants using the same scale as in the preliminary study (average alpha  = .84). Phases (c) – (e) were counterbalanced; there were no significant order effects on children’s happiness (ANOVAs, ps >.095).


Giving leads to happiness in young children.

Aknin LB, Hamlin JK, Dunn EW - PLoS ONE (2012)

Five phases of the main experiment.Toddlers were (a) introduced to a puppet and (b) given eight treats. Then, in counterbalanced order, each toddler (c) watched as the experimenter gave one treat to the puppet, (d) was asked to give a “found” treat to the puppet, and (e) was asked to give one of their own treats to the puppet.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3375233&req=5

pone-0039211-g002: Five phases of the main experiment.Toddlers were (a) introduced to a puppet and (b) given eight treats. Then, in counterbalanced order, each toddler (c) watched as the experimenter gave one treat to the puppet, (d) was asked to give a “found” treat to the puppet, and (e) was asked to give one of their own treats to the puppet.
Mentions: After the warm-up, participants moved to the testing phase. Children were (a) introduced to a new puppet (“Monkey”), encouraged to touch it, and told it liked treats. The experimenter said “Both you and Monkey have no treats right now,” to draw children’s attention to the limited nature of this resource. The experimenter then (b) “found” eight treats, said they were all for the child, and placed them all in the child’s bowl. Next, the experimenter (c) “found” a treat and gave it to the puppet, (d) “found” another treat and asked the child to give it to the puppet, and (e) asked the child to give the puppet a treat from the child’s own bowl (see Figure 2). Participants’ happiness during each phase was coded by the same research assistants using the same scale as in the preliminary study (average alpha  = .84). Phases (c) – (e) were counterbalanced; there were no significant order effects on children’s happiness (ANOVAs, ps >.095).

Bottom Line: The "warm glow" that often follows prosocial acts could provide one such mechanism; if so, these emotional benefits may be observable very early in development.Consistent with this hypothesis, the present study finds that before the age of two, toddlers exhibit greater happiness when giving treats to others than receiving treats themselves.By documenting the emotionally rewarding properties of costly prosocial behavior among toddlers, this research provides initial support for the claim that experiencing positive emotions when giving to others is a proximate mechanism for human cooperation.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Psychology Department, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. laknin@psych.ubc.ca

ABSTRACT
Evolutionary models of cooperation require proximate mechanisms that sustain prosociality despite inherent costs to individuals. The "warm glow" that often follows prosocial acts could provide one such mechanism; if so, these emotional benefits may be observable very early in development. Consistent with this hypothesis, the present study finds that before the age of two, toddlers exhibit greater happiness when giving treats to others than receiving treats themselves. Further, children are happier after engaging in costly giving--forfeiting their own resources--than when giving the same treat at no cost. By documenting the emotionally rewarding properties of costly prosocial behavior among toddlers, this research provides initial support for the claim that experiencing positive emotions when giving to others is a proximate mechanism for human cooperation.

Show MeSH