A particular feeling can motivate children to be altruistic

A particular feeling can motivate children to be altruistic

Among the qualities that some parents want to develop in their child is altruism. This disposition to act for the good of others can be more easily acquired through a particular feeling. Find out which one.

Being interested in others, even devoting yourself to them… Altruistic people have this ability to act for others. But what makes a person altruistic? A study looked at the origins of this quality.

Study how altruism develops

Researchers wanted to understand the mechanism of altruism through a scientific study. To do this, they brought together children aged 8 to 13 to watch animated films that arouse different feelings, such as wonder, joy or no particular emotion. The researchers therefore divided them into three groups:

  • A first group of 55 children watched the wonder-inducing film, based on the film Song of the Sea, in which the main character transforms into a seal and transforms the city by flying above it;
  • A second group of 53 children saw the joy-inducing film, based on the film Fantasia, in which the main character, Dionysus, parties with friends;
  • A final group of 51 children watched a neutral educational clip (to form a control group), in which a character demonstrates how to paint walls.

Each clip lasted approximately 4 minutes and 20 seconds.

A particular feeling allows this quality to be developed

The scientists then asked the children to describe their feelings using an emoji scale comprising six different elements, corresponding to expressions of fear, anger, boredom, sadness, joy and fear, initially time, before carrying out certain tasks.

The first required participants to complete a simple but time-consuming task. They were informed that a local university had organized a food drive where people could donate food to refugees. For this, food products had to be counted. Counting was voluntary and children could stop whenever they wanted.

Wonder, a little-studied feeling in children

The second task was a kind of test. After counting, participants were informed that the experiment had ended and received a numbered raffle ticket, which would allow them to visit a local museum as a reward for their participation. Participants were then asked if they would like to donate their ticket to a refugee family.

Results: children who watched the film arousing wonder were subsequently more inclined to engage in these tasks and give up their winnings. “Wonder is an emotion that makes individuals attentive to the social world rather than to themselves. write the researchers, who deplore the fact that it was “little studied in children despite its importance in children’s culture”.

In the fast-paced world in which today’s children grow up, admiring art allows them to pause, reflect, and act in prosocial ways” they conclude.