New research suggests young kids are kind and compassionate until it comes at a personal cost. 

Young kids aged 4 or 5 are willing to help distressed humans and even puppets in need - unless they have to give up a reward, according to Australian research. 

A series of studies altered the cost and recipient of compassion to determine what might affect this behaviour in 4- to 5-year-olds. 

Children were equally likely to help in-groups (e.g wearing the same colour) and out-groups, and adults and puppets, and helping rates increased if personal costs, like giving up rewards, did not occur. 

The researchers say that their work “showed that children are equally likely to help a distressed human adult when compared to a distressed puppet, as well as an in-group member when compared to a neutral target.

“However, there are limitations to how readily children will act compassionately. Our research finds that personal costs, such as giving up rewards, is a strong blocker to compassionate responding,” the authors state. 

The full study is accessible here.