[Source: Science Daily]
Children as young as 3 apparently can tell the difference between whining and when someone has good reason to be upset, and they will respond with sympathy usually only when it is truly deserved, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.
“The study provides the first evidence that 3-year-olds can evaluate just how reasonable another person’s distressed reaction is to a particular incident or situation, and this influences whether they are concerned enough to try to do something to help,” said the study’s lead author, Robert Hepach, MRes, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. The study was published online in the APA journal Developmental Psychology.
The experiment involved 48 children, split evenly between girls and boys, from 36 to 39 months old. Researchers recorded reactions of each child as he or she witnessed an adult acting upset in one of three contexts: when the distress was justified, when it was unjustified and when the cause of the distress was unknown, the study said.