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What Young Kids Already Know About Forgiveness

Five-year-olds consistently — and four-year-olds less consistently — prefer and have positive impressions of victims who are forgiving compared to those who are not. Both four- and five-year-olds are more generous toward forgiving victims. These findings suggest that children as young as five have a hearty appreciation of the social value of forgiveness, and that this value begins to emerge by age four. The authors take this as evidence that showing forgiveness is one of the ways that humans have maintained cooperation over our evolutionary history.

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