Even babies as young as 8 months old can recognize bad behavior and punish it, according to researchers at Osaka University in Japan.
What to know:
Observations of 8-month-old babies indicate they are capable of punishing antisocial behavior they see in a third party as a natural human reaction rather than something they learn over time.
Preverbal infants observed a computer system that displayed animations on a screen. If they looked at an object on the screen long enough, the object would be destroyed.
Infants were given three scenarios that were designed to exclude alternative interpretations of the infants’ gazing behaviors.
When the infants were shown videos that appeared to show someone injuring another person, the infants punished the aggressor by staring at the image onscreen and destroying it.
The findings could be a turning point in infant cognitive research and provide new insight into the decision-making of infants.
This is a summary of the article, “Born With a Moral Compass? Even Babies Know to Punish Antisocial Behavior,” published in Nature Human Behavior on June 10, 2022. The full article can be found on resou.osaka-u.ac.jp.
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