Asking the right question is not always easy. When it comes to morality, a common question is are we inherently good or evil. This question has lead to mixed results and the truth may be that a child is neither born good nor bad.
Development is a constant interaction between genes and the environment. A baby may be born with a certain predisposition to both good and bad tendencies. The environment that he encounters decides how these tendencies will develop. A child is born with a flexible brain and although certain things may be prewired, a baby’s brain is not hardwired of fixed.
A recent study showed that babies prefer to take a puppet that has “mistreated” a bad puppet. First, the babies watched puppets act in a positive or negative way. Then they either they saw another puppet take or give toys away from the “good” or the “bad” puppet. Eight-month-old babies choose the puppet that was not acting nicely towards the bad puppet.
These studies provides insight into babies fascination with the social world and how the make “moral” choices. But it is also fascinating how complex situations they can interpret and understand.
Below are some videos from a recent study by Kiley Hamlin.
Hamlin, J.K., Wynn, K., Bloom, P., & Mahajan, N. (in press). How infants and
toddlers react to antisocial others. Proceedings of the National
Academy of Science. Doi: 10.1073/pnas.1110306108.
Photo: Baby In Red Hat by Clare Bloomfield