People routinely give their time and money to others, often at a cost to themselves. Blood donation is one example of giving. Substantial research in psychology shows that adults worldwide feel happier spending money on others rather than on themselves. And the act of giving money to charity actually activates regions of your brain that would normally be activated when you have received something.
Children too are not immune to the feeling of joy that giving brings. A recent study with toddlers found that even very young children enjoy giving. This suggests that the act of giving may be hardwired in our brain, like eating or sleeping. It isn’t something that we have to be taught to do, we instinctively know how to do it.
The experiment on toddlers, published in June in the Public Library of Science journal, PLOS ONE, in an article titled �Giving Leads to Happiness in Young Children�, was done at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, by Elizabeth Dunn and her colleagues. The study involved 23 toddlers, a monkey puppet, and goldfish crackers.
Each toddler was taken into a testing room and made to sit at a table facing the monkey puppet and the monkey puppet holding experimenter. The toddler and the monkey puppet had a bowl in front of them. The children were introduced to the monkey puppet and told that the puppet liked goldfish crackers. The fact that the toddlers believed the experimenter did not come as a surprise to parents of young children. And medical research has shown that toddlers think that non-humans like puppets have hopes and desires too, like loving goldfish crackers. When the children were brought into the room, the bowls were empty. The experimenter then �found� eight crackers and put them in a toddler�s bowl. She then �found� another cracker and gave that to the puppet, and then �found� another and asked the child to give it to the puppet. She finally asked the child to give a cracker from her bowl to the puppet. Read More
Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.