Animals or People — Which Make Kids More Giving?

The article “Only Children’s Books With Humans, Have Moral Impact” has me rolling my eyes and snorting. To be fair, what caused my irritation wasn’t the article, but the study it featured (which can be read in an academic paper here).  And why am I so annoyed? Because I think the study is meaningless. The researchers asked some kids to do a task involving sharing stickers before and after reading them a book. They found that directly after hearing a book featuring animals the children were more selfish than when they listened to one featuring people. Did they check in a day later, a week later, a month later? Not to the best of knowledge. And if not, what does this prove? That little kids are briefly more selfish in one case of hearing a story featuring people than animals? I could have told them that kids can be temporarily more selfish after many situations. What matters if they are more or less selfish in the future and this study didn’t address that.
Count me a very big skeptic on this one.

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One response to “Animals or People — Which Make Kids More Giving?

  1. Thanks for this. I agree with you. The study is limited and without nuance. I like the comments about Charlotte’s Web. Certainly there are things ch8ildren learn from anthropomorphized animals that they do not learn from realistic books. They learn to use their imaginations and think creatively, which are both important to empathetic thinking.


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