Foundations of cooperation in young children

Kristina R. Olson, Elizabeth S. Spelke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

329 Scopus citations

Abstract

Observations and experiments show that human adults preferentially share resources with close relations, with people who have shared with them (reciprocity), and with people who have shared with others (indirect reciprocity). These tendencies are consistent with evolutionary theory but could also reflect the shaping effects of experience or instruction in complex, cooperative, and competitive societies. Here, we report evidence for these three tendencies in 3.5-year-old children, despite their limited experience with complex cooperative networks. Three pillars of mature cooperative behavior therefore appear to have roots extending deep into human development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-231
Number of pages10
JournalCognition
Volume108
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Keywords

  • Development
  • Indirect reciprocity
  • Kin preference
  • Reciprocal altruism
  • Social cognition

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