Disasters effect children differently dependent on their age.  Comparing 6 year olds and 9 year olds that have experienced a disaster, the 6 year olds become more selfish and the 9 year olds become more altruistic.

"We think that empathy is the intervening variable," said Jean Decety, the Irving B. Harris Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Chicago, a member of the research team and a study co-author. The study demonstrates the developmental differences in the growth of empathy, Decety explained.
As a child grow up, the prefrontal cortex matures with improved connections among the circuits involved with emotion. "As they grow older, children become able to better regulate their own vicarious emotions and understand better what they feel, and they are more inclined to act pro-socially," said Decety.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/ 130130101816.htm


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