Children offered a choice between ice cream and helping someone in need

A century ago, the world’s first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., would often give a kid a nickel while informing them, “That’s a year’s interest on a dollar.” But it may be that children already have intuitive ideas about the value of money and perhaps more importantly, values related to money.

To find out, some people decided to run a social experiment. All they needed was an ice cream truck, some dollar bills, and an actor pretending to be a homeless man. With their parents’ permission, children aged 4 to 6 were each given a dollar bill and told they could use it to buy ice cream from the truck. When they ran over to the truck, the could see the “homeless” man sitting nearby with a cardboard sign reading “I need money” and a cup for donations.

Children can sometimes be selfish and they never, ever pass on an opportunity to enjoy some ice cream. So you might think that when they saw the “homeless” man sitting there looking so miserable, they would have only bought the ice cream and been on their way. But incredibly, they all gave the dollar to the man they assumed was homeless! Despite being so young, they understood that he needed some help more than they wanted the ice cream. Each parent, watching from nearby was beaming with pride.

There was one exception. A little girl paused to consider her choice and came up with a third solution. When she went over to the ice cream truck, he dad looked a bit crestfallen. Was his daughter so heartless? No, as it turned out. After buying ice cream, she took it right over to the “homeless” man! She got a big hug from her dad!

What’s your take on this social experiment? Do children have wisdom that we adults have lost? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. Be sure to like and share, too!