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Infants as young as 18 months show altruistic behaviour, suggesting humans have a natural tendency to be helpful, German researchers have discovered.
In experiments reported in the journal Science, toddlers helped strangers complete tasks such as stacking books.
Young chimps did the same, providing the first direct evidence of altruism in non-human primates.
Altruism may have evolved six million years ago in the common ancestor of chimps and humans, the study suggests.