Children from poorer backgrounds have been found to be more generous than their wealthier counterparts in a new psychological study.
Researchers from the University of California investigated how youngsters' nervous systems responded during altruistic acts and how altruism is related to family wealth.
A group of children, who had an average age of four, were played with in the lab and told they would earn tokens that could be traded for prizes at the end of their visit.
Near the end of the experiment, the youngsters were told they could donate some or all of their prize tokens to fictitious sick children who weren't able to come to the lab.
The results showed that children from more wealthy families shared fewer tokens than the children from less wealthy families.
Measurements of the activity of the children's vagus nerves showed that those who were most generous had the highest vagal tone readings, which have been linked to better physical health, behaviour, and social skills
"The findings provide us with a new understanding of how children's altruistic behaviours, family wealth, and physiological health are intertwined," says psychological scientist and lead researcher Jonas Miller of the University of California Davis.
Posted by Harriet McGowan