Kindergarteners who are fearless are less empathic and more aggressive towards their classmates.
"The results of this study show that fearless behaviour in children can be identified and is related to neurological and genetic predisposition.
This type of behaviour has less correlation-at least in infancy-with standards of educational processes or parenting practice," said Inbal Kivenson-Baron, who carried out the study.
The study observed 80 children aged 3-4, along with their parents and preschool teachers. It reviewed reports given by parents and teachers, and made observations of the children at their preschool locations, at home and in the lab.
First it was revealed that the heart rate in children who showed a high level of fearless behaviour was slow to start.
Next, the correlation between fearless behaviour and social characteristics was evaluated, finding that the more fearless children revealed less empathy towards their peers and also had difficulty identifying facial expressions of fear, while they had no problem identifying other emotions such as anger, surprise, happiness or sadness.
These children also demonstrated higher levels of general aggression - especially tending toward antisocial behaviour such as taking advantage of friends, emotional shallowness and a lack of regret or guilt after doing something socially unacceptable.
An interesting finding in this study was that despite their antisocial tendency, the children who show more fearlessness are quite sociable.
"These children connect with other children, they are friendly and smiley; but they find it difficult to identify distress in a friend, and show less interest in helping that friend. It seems that fearless behaviour includes in it both positive and negative aspects," explainded Kivenson-Baron.
This study was carried out at the University of Haifa's Faculty of Education.