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Youngsters 'Play Nice' Based on Other Kids' Reputation

  • VOA News

Children play in giant air cushions at the Fantasy Kids Resort in Ebina, west of Tokyo, March 2006.

Children play in giant air cushions at the Fantasy Kids Resort in Ebina, west of Tokyo, March 2006.

In a real-life demonstration of the 'Golden Rule' - treat others as you would like to be treated - youngsters are more likely to be nice to children they see being nice to others. Researchers at Japan's Osaka University say this suggests that children develop a sense of other kids' reputation for helpfulness early in life. Actions that foster cooperation are crucial to the success of societies.

Kenji Onishi and colleagues observed 5 to 6-year-olds on a kindergarten playground. They found that the youngsters were more likely to offer an object or help a child they had seen being helpful to another child. The researchers say children were more likely to behave cooperatively when they saw their friends and classmates acting that way.

Although being nice is not always reciprocated by the recipient, the researchers say the behavior increases the chances that child will be helped by others. Their study appears in the journal PLOS ONE.

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