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A new study conducted at the University of Haifa: fearless children show less empathy and more aggressive behavior

"The findings show that fearless behavior in children is identifiable and has a genetic and neurological mechanism and is less related, at least in early childhood, with characteristics of education or characteristics of parenting," said Dr. Inbal Kibenson Bar-On, who conducted the study

A face expressing fear from the book "The expressions of fear in mother and beast" written by Darwin
A face expressing fear from the book "The expressions of fear in mother and beast" written by Darwin

Pre-school children with fearless behavior (boldness) show less empathy and more aggressive behavior towards their friends, according to a new study conducted at the Faculty of Education at the University of Haifa. "The findings show that fearless behavior in children can be identified and has a genetic and neurological mechanism and is less related, at least in early childhood, with characteristics of education or characteristics of parenting," said Dr. Inbal Kibenson Bar-On, who conducted the study.

In the study, conducted under the direction of Prof. Ofra Meisels, the researcher asked to check whether fearless behavior in children aged 3-4 is related to certain physiological and social-emotional characteristics and whether there is a relationship to parenting characteristics such as socioeconomic status, birth order, personal well-being, child-rearing practices, etc. '.

For this purpose, 80 children aged 3-4, their parents and kindergarten teachers were examined, when the study relied on the reports of the parents and kindergarten teachers and observations of the children during their stay in kindergarten, at home and in a laboratory observation. The study examined the tendency to fearlessness and social-emotional characteristics at two time points a year apart in order to test the stability of this tendency.

First, it was found that children who showed a high level of fearless behavior had a low level of initial heart rate and high heart rate variability.

In the second part, the relationship between fearless behavior and social characteristics was examined and it was found that children who showed a high level of this behavior showed less empathy towards their friends and in addition they had difficulty recognizing facial expressions of fear, even though they had no problem recognizing other emotions such as anger, surprise, joy or Nerve. In addition, these children also demonstrated a higher level of general aggressiveness and mainly a tendency to antisocial behavior that is reflected in the exploitation of their friends, emotional superficiality and the absence of a feeling of remorse or guilt after committing an act that is socially forbidden.

An interesting finding is that despite this anti-social behavior, according to the researcher, the children who showed a high level of fearless behavior actually have a high level of sociability. "These children bond with other children, they are friendly and smiling, however, they will have difficulty recognizing a friend in distress, and will show less interest in helping him. It turns out that fearless behavior has both positive and negative aspects," she said.

"Since fearless behavior is more closely related to genetic and neurological characteristics, it becomes important to find the most effective ways - both in terms of education in kindergarten and in terms of education at home - to help these children develop morals and distinguish social prohibitions and in addition, we as a society must examine what is the optimal stimulus that the environment should provide for arousal Emotional which is necessary for the formation of a feeling of empathy towards others and avoiding aggressiveness", concluded Dr. Kibenson Bar-On.

8 תגובות

  1. Sounds logical and with thought-provoking conclusions. What is most interesting to me is that children with low empathic skills actually manage to be more sociable. In the years of adulthood, it is known that people who suffer from antisocial traits and lines in their personality tend to have a personal charm and charisma, which helps them create flat social connections with a wide spectrum of people. Is this the budding of this anti-social skill or is this a real ability to create deep interpersonal relationships (which require empathy and theory of mind).
    Thanks to Dr. Inbal Kibenson Bar-On from the University of Haifa.
    Eitan Tamir

  2. Indeed, miracles, kindergarten age is important...

    Please visit the website, and watch the video, whose address is listed in the message here and which my name is linked to - and write me about your impression.

  3. Uncle
    The title of the article begins with a word that, I understand, is missing from you - "research". I absolutely agree with you that the education system is on its face - and it is progressing thanks to the Minister of Education to a much worse situation (my personal opinion). But, there are many problems with what you suggest. By and large - I think the biggest problem is benefit to an individual versus benefit to as many individuals as possible. Everyone is different, and everyone needs a different education. What you suggest is very good for the smarter kids. But, many, many children have many problems, such as learning disabilities, such as difficulty establishing social contact, such as behavior problems.
    Children seek boundaries, like any other young animal. I don't see your way how they learn where the boundaries are. In nature it exists.
    You are right that age does not determine exactly who a person is. But - he is not bad at all. I wouldn't want to be a 14-year-old in the company of 18-year-olds, and certainly not the other way around. Theoretically, you are right that it is possible to build groups of "compatible" people, who are not of the same age - but who will determine the composition of these groups? The children themselves?

    I definitely agree that the existing education system needs to be changed. But it should be in a way that suits everyone. Start from kindergarten - how do you start? from which age? Or, that age will not determine but something else? how exactly?
    Do you have any answers to this? After all, we know (studies) that the kindergarten years are more significant than all the school years. So let's start where it matters the most shall we?

  4. The schools will develop the values ​​of tolerance and human dignity, the self-awareness and responsibility of the students, and will become involved in the teaching of morality when they become communities of people who fully and mutually respect the right of others to choose.

    Because, "ethics" (values) is a lesson that life experience teaches.

    The proposal, that morals (values) should be taught in our public schools, has itself been discussed above the pages of the press, especially since news about the violence in the country - violence at home, violence at school, in the environment and in society - has been published. Unfortunately, several complex issues have become confused in this debate.

    First of all, it is important to understand that our schools as they are built today do teach students a whole range of values, and they are included in a well-defined pattern of behavior. The indoctrination is visible, and the surveillance is exhaustive. In fact, much has been written these days on the subject, often in a critical manner.

    For example, schools teach the value of obedience to authority, absolute and unquestioning obedience. They preach conformity and adaptation (conformity), and support this by an incredible battery of standardized tests, which are given in almost all schools in Israel, to children of all ages. They indelibly imprint the value of destructive competitiveness, and the accompanying attitude that "weak-elbowed guys finish last." They mock and abolish the values ​​of individuality, freedom, tolerance, and equality.

    I can hear the chorus of objections from educators from the public education system, who shout that I have no idea what is really going on, etc., etc. But the readers of this text, children and adults, know that what I say is true, and if I sin in anything, it is in using the understatement. And this is what one of the best representatives of public education in the United States, John Gatto, New York's Teacher of the Year in 1991, had to say in an important speech he gave to an audience: "The truth is that schools really teach nothing but How to obey the instructions".

    Of course, what the critics are actually recommending is teaching a different set of values, which is more to their liking. Mention as examples, the teaching of the Jewish tradition or Kohlberg's teaching of morality; Other visitors have other priorities. It is difficult to criticize any of these choices, but the main point is that the very idea of ​​"parenting" children in school, according to some set of values, is baseless. The people do not learn values ​​by being taught in classrooms. At best, the children see such teaching as boring and irrelevant; At worst, they treat it as repulsive preaching.

    The education system of the Japanese, for example, is proof of this. It is true that moral lessons are an integral part of Japanese education, however, we wonder about their effectiveness. Indeed, the behavior of the Japanese in the first half of this century, during the entire Second World War, would not have led anyone to point to them as models of moral behavior. Even today I'm not so sure I would. By the way, the second country that is remembered as excelling for a long time, over a century, in the teaching of philosophy and ethics was Germany. And there is no need to expand the speech.

    Which brings me to the third and main point: anthropologists and philosophers have noticed for some time that the way in which moral values ​​are transmitted to children is through daily activities, by role models of adults and by the children. This is the reason why the family is the focus of moral education: children are regularly exposed to the behavior of their parents and their brothers and sisters, and perceive, through imitation and through the process of building concepts, the moral framework underlying the actions of their "teachers". And within the framework of the home, children are regularly involved in actions that they and their families value in moral terms.

    Moral education belongs to the home. Of course he belongs there, but does that remove him from the authority of the school?

    This certainly does not exclude moral education from the authority of the school!!

    The only way in which schools can become significant suppliers of moral values ​​is if they give students and adults real-life experiences that carry with them moral meaning. Such attempts are conspicuously absent from the daily routine of public schools today. These attempts include, for example, students who, within the framework of the school, choose matters that are important to them; Choices such as how to educate themselves to be productive adults. They include students who exercise judgment in matters of consequence such as school rules or discipline. I could go on and on giving examples, but the matter is simple, and few explanations are necessary: ​​in order to teach students morality, they must have opportunities to choose between alternative courses of action that have different moral weight, and they must be allowed to evaluate and discuss the results of these choices.

    The schools will develop the values ​​of tolerance and human dignity, the self-awareness and responsibility of the students, and will become involved in the teaching of morality when they become communities of people who fully and mutually respect the right of others to choose. This means that both teachers and students will be given power of attorney to such an extent that professional educators have not thought about it until now. Until such a power of attorney is given, the values ​​that schools teach will continue to be in sharp conflict with those that most reformers would like to see taught by the youth in a Jewish and democratic society.

  5. What does it mean that we have to raise cowardly, insecure, paranoid and socially inappropriate children?

    Why go to school?

    For people who like to think for themselves about the important questions in life from beginning to end, the school I'm talking about challenges the accepted answers.

    The social foundations

    Some time ago it became fashionable to ask our schools to take care of the social climate of the students. Teach them to get along. Rid our society of socially misfits and incompetents by nipping the problem in the bud, at school. ambitious? Maybe. However, how many are the people who have struggled with the school's reports of their own or their children's social adjustment and adjustment or lack of adjustment and lack of social adjustment! Strange, isn't it, how hard people sometimes screw up what they do? I mean, trying to get people to be social is hard enough; However, it seems that the schools have almost systematically created ways to thwart this goal.

    Take an age separation, for starters. What genius looked around and came up with the idea that separating people sharply by age is a meaningful thing? Does such a separation exist naturally anywhere? In industry, do all the 21-year-old workers work separately from the 20-year-olds or the 23-year-olds? In business, are there separate rooms for 30 year old managers and 31 year old managers? Are two-year-olds different from one-year-olds and three-year-olds on the playgrounds? Where, where on earth did this idea originate? Is there anything more socially harmful than separating children according to yearbooks for fourteen—sometimes eighteen—years?

    Or take the segregation often by gender, even in the schools of mixed education (boys-girls), for a variety of activities. Or the huge gap between children and adults (have you ever noticed how universal it is for children not to look adults in the eye?).

    And now let us take a look at the social situation that has arisen for children within their own age group. If the schools make it almost impossible for the 12-year-old to have normal and human contact with the 11-year-olds, the 13-year-olds, adults, etc., what about the other 12-year-olds?

    We are not so lucky. The main and almost exclusive form of contact that schools cultivate between children of the same class is competition! Competition to the point of slaughter. The pecking order is everyone with everyone (the pecking order - the basic pattern of social organization within a flock of birds in which each chicken pecks another chicken lower on the ladder without fear of retribution, and submits to the pecking of a chicken of a higher status). Who is better than who, who is smarter, faster, taller, handsome - and of course who is worse, stupid, slow, short, ugly.

    If ever a method was devised effectively to produce competitive, obnoxious, insecure, paranoid, socially inept people, the current schools have succeeded.

    Back to the basics.

    In the real world, the most important social feature for a stable and healthy society is cooperation. In the real world, the most important form of competition is: against yourself, against goals set by and for someone so that they can achieve it themselves. In the real world, interpersonal competition for the sake of competition itself is widely recognized as pointless and destructive - yes, even in big business and sports.

    In the real world, and in the school I'm talking about (, which is a school for the world of reality.

  6. Sounds like a shame

    Real research hypothesizes.
    then checks her. He doesn't check a million things and then when there is a case that seems unusual he immediately decides that this is the result

    There will always be something unusual

    Besides, empathy and aggressiveness are things that are difficult to measure

  7. 80 children? How does this create a statistically representative sample? Can I get a link to the article?

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