The ability to trust is not something that children have automatically at birth but is actually developed in the early years at school according to a new study by psychologists in Graz.
Working together with colleagues from the University the Prof Ursula Athenstaedt from the Institute of psychology at the University of Graz together with Prof Joachim I. Krueger from the Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, looked at the behaviour of 500 children.
The children aged between five and 10 years of age.
The Austrian professor said: “We wanted to see how trust in children developed through the years and what influences that level of trust which has not previously been investigated.”
In order to carry out test the team developed a trust games involving the selection of bags with various rewards inside. The basic result was the older children are much more trusting than the younger children. Children for example who are still in the kindergarten age had a trust average of around 27% but children in primary school have a trust level of around 70% on how much they were prepared to believe and have faith others.
They found that it was irrelevant whether the children were male or female or whether they had brothers or sisters or a stable family life. The only thing that made a difference was age.
The conclusion is that in order to trust the person needed to be old enough to have a perspective about things which meant age was necessary according to the psychologists.
Very young children did not have the perspective advantage and therefore less trusting.