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Children First Learn About Competition

Competition has been a human trait since the beginning of time. People instinctively compete for mates, food, territory and now, other life variables such as jobs and items. Even though competition might appear to be a natural behavior, it is a behavior that needs to be learned based on the environment and cultural beliefs. In a new study, researchers reported that children first learn about competition at around the age of four.

For this study, the research team composed of Johannes Roessler from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom and Beate Priewasser and Josef Perner from the Department of Psychology at the University of Salzburg in Austria recruited 71 children. The children were between the ages of three and five. They were put through two different experiments. The first one tested the children's ability to understand false beliefs. The second one tested the children's understanding of other people's goals.

In the first experiment, Roessler explained, "In the classical 'false belief task', children watch a boy put some chocolate in a drawer and go off to play. Someone comes along and moves the chocolate to the cupboard. The experimenter then asks children where the boy will go to retrieve his chocolate. Children under the age of 4 tend to predict that he will go straight to the turquoise beads, because that is where the chocolate now is-even though the boy had no means of knowing this!"

The researchers found that for older children, they predicted that the boy would still go into the drawer to look for his chocolate. The older children were able to understand that even though the chocolate was moved, the boy was not aware of it and thus, he could not know that the chocolate was no longer in the drawer. In the second experiment, the researchers gave each child a vertical stand that they need to fill up with beads in order to win. Each child gets a turn throwing a die. The number that shows up is the number of beads that they are allowed to put into their stands. The children can pick to take beads from a basket, which was considered the neutral option or they can take beads from other children's stands, which would indicate competition.

The researchers found that children who did not pass the false belief experiment test also did not tend to poach from other children. These children were younger and could not understand competition and why taking beads from other children would benefit themselves while slowing down others. The younger children also did not understand retaliation. When their beads were taken, they did not start to take other people's beads.

"The 'four years of age' rule isn't hard and fast. What's important is not the absolute age of the child, but the fact that those who do not understand how intentional action can be informed by false beliefs also tend to struggle with the idea of competition," Roessler said according to Medical Xpress.

The Atfalati band of the Kalapuya Indians, who settled in the basin of the Tualatin Valley some 10,000 years ago, were the first peoples to call Washington County home.From what historians know, this "home" extended from villages at Wapato Lake in what is now Forest Grove to Chakeipi, or "Place of the Beaver," located in present day Beaverton.

Although the landscape has changed, tracaes of the Atfalati's history remain embedded in the fertile soil. Cherry Amabisca of Helvetia said that artifacts such as bowls, arrowheads and beads are regularly uncovered in the farmland surrounding her home, a reminder of the Indians who buried their tools instead of carrying items back and forth during their annual migrations.

Traveling east of Helvetia Road, visitors can learn about the native peoples at Five Oaks, a historical meeting place of the Atfalati that they called "Chatakuin," meaning place of the big trees. Today, only two of the original oaks remain, the others downed by storms. The landmark would go on to be used as a trading post for American settlers and is also the place where Washington County had its first commissioners meetings. Next to the trees now are signs and a plaque commemorating the history of the area.

While visual reminders of the Atfalati heritage can still be found in the area, people who identify as Atfalati or Kalapuya are few.


After the first settlers arrived in the early 1800s, smallpox decimated the native people. In 1855, when the Kalapuya and other Northwest tribes ceded their land to the United States government in exchange for other services like education, protection and jewelry findings, it is estimated that there were only 600 Kalapuya still living.

With the Kalapuyans, more than 25 other tribes were moved to the Grand Ronde Indian reservation in 1856, and the collected tribes became known as the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. However, after the U.S. government passed the Western Oregon Indian Termination Act in 1954, the reservation and status of the confederation were terminated.

The tribe existed as a non-recognized government entity until Congress passed the Grand Ronde Restoration Act in 1983, a piece of legislation aided by former Oregon Congresswoman Elizabeth Furse.


Furse, who resides in Helvetia, said there has been a lot of heartache for the native peoples, struggling to claim artifacts and sacred grounds important to their heritage.

David Lewis, cultural liaison for the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, said that after 130 years of the various tribes being united as the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, it's nearly impossible to separate the tribes. Many of the peoples' ancestry are composed of multiple groups. But he said he identifies with the Kalapuya most after growing up in the area that once belonged to the tribe.
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