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Altruistic social preferences in children

Research Achievements

Altruistic social preferences in children

IRSP faculty member Joan Silk and IRSP trainee Bailey House are assessing the ontogeny of altruistic social preferences in children. This work builds on experimental findings which show that chimpanzees do not differentiate between options that deliver rewards to themselves and another group member (prosocial) versus options that deliver rewards only to themselves (selfish). Using a similar protocol, Silk and House are finding that by the age of 4 years, children show preferences for prosocial outcomes; younger children do not differentiate. Children also differ from chimpanzees in a willingness to incur costs in order to provide benefits to others. The results were presented at the meetings of the Society for Research on Child Development in April 2009.