From: The Brink

Are Kids Hardwired for Revenge?

Have you ever noticed that there are some things kids seem to do reflexively—say, punching a little brother for toppling a Lego tower? Yet, other behaviors, like saying thank you or helping with chores, must be laboriously taught. If it’s instinctive to punish someone who wrongs you, doesn’t it follow that you’d reward the person who helps you? Aren’t the age-old maxims “an eye for an eye” and “one good turn deserves another” just two sides of the same coin?

Peter Blake, a Boston University College of Arts & Sciences associate professor of psychological and brain sciences and director of BU’s Social Development and Learning Lab, set out to better understand how and when positive direct reciprocity—paying back a kindness to a specific individual—develops in young children. “The idea that you pay back specifically the person who helped you is a really important piece for the evolution of cooperation,” says Blake. “It’s what sets up a relationship that will hold over the long term.” 

Was it just a lapse in memory? Nope. Immediately after each game, researchers quizzed the children on the identities of the givers and takers. The kids recalled both groups with high rates of accuracy. The findings, which were published in Psychological Science, even held when the scientists analyzed exclusively results from the kids who answered the memory check questions correctly.

Read the whole story: The Brink


APS regularly opens certain online articles for discussion on our website. Effective February 2021, you must be a logged-in APS member to post comments. By posting a comment, you agree to our Community Guidelines and the display of your profile information, including your name and affiliation. Comments will be moderated. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations present in article comments are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of APS or the article’s author. For more information, please see our Community Guidelines.

Please login with your APS account to comment.