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WELL NEWS: Children learn gratitude and reciprocity, but they’re born knowing about revenge

by SCOTT LAFEE Creators Syndicate | February 17, 2020 at 1:54 a.m.

Cognitive scientists at the University of California, Irvine report that children ages 4 to 8 must be taught the social norms of giving, gratitude and reciprocity. It doesn't come naturally.

Revenge is different.

"In our series of experiments, we thought we'd see that children would display positive direct reciprocity — the tendency to pay back those who have helped — from an early age. That wasn't the case," Nadia Chernyak, assistant professor of cognitive sciences at the university, told Futurity. "Preschool-age children showed almost no awareness that they should repay favors."

Conversely, in computer games of give and take, young children easily adopted an attitude of payback, stealing digital stickers from other children they believed had stolen from them. If another child gave them a sticker out of generosity, it was, well, more stickers for them.

"Young children may not be naturally stingy; they simply don't know the rule. Their principles look a little different from those of adults. It takes some cognitive building blocks, as well as exposure to social norms relevant to their culture, to learn how to navigate the world," Chernyak said. "If the goal is to have children display gratitude, we should take opportunities to point out and discuss with them instances when other people are exhibiting this desired behavior."

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

February is American Heart Month, International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month, National Children's Dental Health Month, Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and LOW VISION AWARENESS Month.

GET ME THAT, STAT!

Sepsis is the body's extreme reaction to infection. It involves an out-of-control inflammatory response that, without effective treatment, rapidly leads to tissue damage, organ failure and death. New data suggest it's an underrated killer. Writing in The Lancet, researchers found that there were 48.9 million global cases of sepsis in 2017 and 11 million deaths. That means sepsis was involved in 1 in 5 deaths worldwide.

COUNTS

43: Percentage of American adults surveyed who said they had used online rankings of physicians; one-third said they read reviews when looking for a new doctor

Source: University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging

CATCHING

Here's a bit of not-so-happy news: Scottish scientists have confirmed that it's possible to catch a cold while you're already under the weather with the flu — but you really have to be unlucky.

When you have the flu, the body's immune response makes it less hospitable to rhinoviruses, the primary cause of common colds. The viruses responsible for your flu are out-competing cold viruses. They've effectively claimed your respiratory tract and other body parts as their turf, leaving rhinoviruses out in the cold, so to speak.

HARD TO CATCH

If you're the parent of an active infant, all of that troublesome, tiring crawling hither and yon bodes well for the kid later in life. Researchers tracked the physical activity levels of 506 infants who wore tiny accelerometers (baby Fitbits) on their ankles for four days and four tracking periods at ages 3, 6, 9 and 12 months.

They found that infants who generally increased their physical activity over time (as they became more mobile) also had lower central adiposity, a measure of lower-torso fat accumulation. The finding dovetails other evidence that infants who gain weight more rapidly in the first months of life are more likely to experience obesity later in childhood and as adults.

PHOBIA, MANIA

Astraphobia: fear of thunder and lightning.

Klazomania: an obsession or propensity to scream.

BEST MEDICINE

Strong people don't put other people down. They lift them up and then slam them to the ground for maximum effect.

PERISHABLE PUBLICATIONS

Many, if not most, published research papers have titles that defy comprehension. They use specialized jargon, complex words and opaque phrases like "nonlinear dynamics." Sometimes they don't, and yet they're still hard to figure out.

Here's an actual title of actual published research: "Etude sur la pendaison." Or, in English, "The Hanging Study."

In the early 1900s, Nicolae Minovici, a Romanian forensic scientist, wanted to know more about the effects of hanging beyond, obviously, the end result. So he hanged himself 12 times for up to 25 seconds -- with an assistant nearby. He survived all of his experiments to publish his study in the Library of Criminology in 1905, reporting that some early symptoms of death by hanging are vision problems and ringing in the ears.

Minovici died in 1941 at the age of 72, reportedly from an illness affecting his vocal cords.

SUM BODY

Thousands of Americans each year receive a new organ; tens of thousands are on waiting lists. When an organ becomes available, it's a race to transplant it from donor to recipient before the organ tissues begin to deteriorate.

Here are the approximate typical and maximum preservation times for donated organs, according to the TransWeb website.

Lung: 4 hours typical, 8 hours maximum.

Heart: 3 hours typical, 8 hours maximum.

Intestine: 8 hours typical, 13 hours maximum.

Pancreas: 14 hours typical, 24 hours maximum.

Liver: 8 hours typical, 18 hours maximum.

Kidney: 19 hours typical, 36 hours maximum.

DOC TALK

Cacchination: a fit of spontaneous, uproarious, unrestrained laughter.

OBSERVATION

"Use your health, even to the point of wearing it out. That is what it is for. Spend all you have before you die; do not outlive yourself."

— Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Syndicated science writer Scott LaFee's column of health-related humor appears occasionally in Style.

Style on 02/17/2020

Print Headline: Children have to be taught attitude of gratitude

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