“Children are born to be social.” With reference to specific empirical studies, critically evaluate whether this claim is supported by research on social development.
The natural-tendency view (Dahl, 2015)
Warneken and Tomasello (2006; 2007)
report on instrumental helping in infancy. They found that by the first year of life, children are highly motivated to assist an adult in their goal-directed actions. It is assumed that 14-month-olds understand the intentions of others and are motivated to help. The researchers posit that this demonstrates a innate proclivity to behave altruistically; infants are eager to help in the absence of praise, extrinsic rewards and requests- interpret this as acting on behalf of another without immediate benefit to themselves thus it is natural altruistic tendency. Children are biologically equipped and socialisation processes build on these tendencies rather than create them.
Supporting cross-cultural studies
Callaghan et al (2011)
Since all individuals collaborate in groups, and are required to effectively operate within their sociocultural environment, it is assumed that human cognition develops according to culturally diverse socialisation processes (Cole, 1996). Additionally, it is inferred that infants are inherently able to acquire culturally specific information and develop specialised skills (Cole, 1996). However, further research is required to understand the nature of the innate capacities which transform as individuals participate in a social group.
Callaghan et al. (2011) hypothesised that the development of fundamental skills required for cooperating, communicating and learning from others may be universal. They investigated the impact of different socialisation practices in disparate cultures on nascent social-cognitive abilities.
Identifying instrumental helping in infancy as indicating a rudimentary understanding others’ goals
Across three different cultures, the researchers observed a similar developmental trajectory, demonstrating a universal emergence of basic social-cognitive skills.
Counter to this model-
The social-interactional view
The social-interactional view suggests that social experiences contribute towards the emergence of developmental helping. Infants are, in fact, guided to participate in helping activities early on. (intertwining of biology and environment is acknowledge in this view- neither suffices- the interweaving begins at a prenatal period thus environment is an ever present contributing factor).
This study questions:
1) do infants help at home the way they do in the lab?
2)are infants encourages to help at home?
3) what is the role of praise/reinforcement?
Findings were as predicted by the social-interactional view