Young children actively transmit culture

"A hammer has many uses – breaking, prying, bending – but we all know that hammers are supposed to be for hammering nails into wood. It turns out we not only learn such cultural conventions when we’re very young, we can transmit them, too.

A recent Cornell study finds that toddlers notice subtle social clues to figure out what actions of others may be socially or culturally important and then preferentially share this information with others...."

Link.

Ecc lab research on prosocial behavior featured in the Cornell Chronicle

" "Doggy feels sad today," Nadia Chernyak, a Cornell graduate student, recently said as she showed a dog puppet to several children at the Sciencenter, a hands-on science museum in Ithaca. Chernyak '08, M.A. '09, was conducting an experiment with the children and had given them colorful stickers, which they presumably wanted to keep.

The kids -- between 2 and 4 years old -- could cheer up the puppet only by giving him a sticker. Some faced what Chernyak called an "easy choice": either share their sticker with the puppet or hand it to Chernyak, who would throw it away. Others had a tougher decision: keep the sticker for themselves or share it with the puppet. After making their decisions, the children received three more stickers and the choice to share some with a different toy, "Ellie," a stuffed elephant..."

Link.