Researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Germany have been looking into how children's environments influence their willingness to help other people. They showed groups of 18-month-old children pictures of household objects such as a teapot or a shoe. In the background of the pictures were a number of other images intended to affect the children's thinking. In the background of some pictures were two wooden dolls, facing and almost touching each other while other pictures showed dolls facing away from one another, a doll on its own and some wooden blocks. After showing the children the images one of the researchers "accidentally" dropped a small bundle of sticks then waited to see if the children would spontaneously help or if they needed some hints. The children who had seen the dolls close together and facing each other were three times as likely to offer help as the other children.
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