Say Thank You: Learning How to Lie
Although honesty is generally taught as the best policy, around a childs birthday and holidays, the little white lie goes a long way. After all, kids are expected to grin and giggle at an itchy wool sweater as if it were the toy-of-the-moment they had been begging for. After a few years of awkward laughter and whispered scolding from parents, children tend to learn that a forced exclamation of joy earns them more smiles and hugs than the truth does.
Although this landmark on the way to knowing the difference between making grandma happy and making grandma really happy may seem of no use outside the living room, research published in the May 2005 issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society, shows that there is a strong connection between a preschool childs reaction to an unwanted present and their ability to control other reactive behavior.
In a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and Texas A&M University, researchers Jessica E. Kieras, Renée M. Tobin, William G. Graziano, and Mary K. Rothbart found that childrens ability to put on a happy face when faced with a gift of an unattractive baby rattle was shown to predict their knowledge of the often-unspoken rules of acceptable behavior in society. The results speak to a childs potential to develop "socially appropriate expressive behavior" and a visibly even temperament, according to the authors.
Children ranging in age from 3 to 5 years were asked how much they liked each toy in a set, and following their assessment, received either their favorite or least favorite toy of the set. After each child received their toy, the tester gauged the childs response based on several observed reactions, including smiling, surprise, disappointment, disgust, and anger.
In order to relate these results to what society tells us about polite behavior, the children were then given a series of small tasks to perform, such as drawing a line at an unnaturally slow speed or holding down a pinball lever for extended lengths of time. The results of these simple tasks demonstrated the childrens level of ability to overcome their reactive instincts and fit their actions to suit the needs of their situation - a skill learned throughout childhood and of limitless importance in the adult world.
The results were not altogether surprising. "Children who performed well on behavioral measures of effortful control displayed similar amounts of positive affect after receiving desirable and undesirable gifts, whereas children scoring low on effortful control showed more positive affect after receiving the desirable gift than after receiving the undesirable gift," the authors wrote. The children who were able to react similarly to the toy they wanted and the toy they didnt want were more able to comply with the regulations of the performance tests. So parents, keep nudging your kids to smile and say thank you; it may help them get that date, job, or house a few years down the line.
Jessica Kieras | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...