Social learning: children solve tasks in a team

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Social learning: children solve problems in teamwork - monkeys are selfish

Those who work together in a team are stronger and more efficient. This has now been found in a study by the University of Durham in Great Britain. The study compared children's social learning with that of monkeys. The result: Even small children are real “team workers” - monkeys, on the other hand, cannot work in a group and solve tasks.

Children like to work in a team For the study, 35 three- and four-year-old children were divided into groups. Within the group, they were supposed to open a box that was designed so that three work steps were necessary. Two actions had to be carried out in parallel for each step. As a reward, the children received delicacies. The result of the test showed that in eight of the children's groups at least two children were able to carry out the three work steps. They quickly understood that teamwork was required to solve the tasks and jointly developed a suitable solution strategy. According to scientists, they "supported each other, imitated, rewarded and gave instructions."

Altruistic acts from an early age The same task was given to dozens of chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys. The conditions were the same, and the monkeys were lured with rewards. It turned out that the monkeys had great difficulty in completing the three steps. They did not see the task as teamwork and tried to open the box without help. The animals therefore solve complex tasks less effectively. "They acted in a completely self-serving manner, largely independent of the other animals' actions," the researchers report. Only one chimpanzee managed to solve the third stage after 30 hours. None of the capuchin monkeys reached this step. Only two monkeys were able to solve the second stage after 53 hours. In contrast to the observations in the monkeys, the scientists were able to identify 215 altruistic events in the children. This included, for example, sharing a reward.

In their article, the researchers point out that their results also support previous studies. Cooperative behavior makes it easier to accumulate knowledge and expand skills in a community. Pro-social behavior and the ability to cooperate are “essential aspects of human nature”.

"The study results confirm our observations in practice," says graduate educator Jessica Bertram. When toddlers are rewarded with a common goal, they can quickly form groups to complete tasks. "Even goodies are often shared afterwards". Children don't compete, adds Bertram. The "competition and ownership claims develop later."

Affection and motherly love strengthen social behavior American researchers at Washington University in St. Louis recently found that early childhood emotional affection strengthens cognitive development and later social behavior. Maternal care increases the growth of the hippocampus, which is of crucial importance for the further course of life. This region of the brain has a significant impact on memory as well as on emotions and their processing as well as coping with stress, as the researchers report in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences". (sb)

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Image: Helene Souza /

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