A new study has suggested that babies could have mean tendencies starting as early as nine months.
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A recent study conducted amongst nine to 14-month old babies has revealed that babies may show a preference for those who are similar to them. Moreover, they may also share dislike for those who are not similar.
To prove this hypothesis, psychological scientist Kiley Hamlin, a professor at the University of British Columbia, conducted two studies. The studies were conducted while she was still a graduate student at Yale University with her advisor Karen Wynn and colleague, according to PschologicalScience.org.
In the study, babies were first allowed to choose a snack: either graham crackers or green beans. The babies then watched a bunny puppet show in which Bunny A chose the same snack as the baby and Bunny B chose the opposite.
In a second puppet show, the babies then watched the either Bunny A or Bunny B play with two dog puppets and a ball; one dog was mean and would steal the ball from Bunny A or B, while the second dog was nice and helped Bunny A or B retrieve the ball.
At the end of watching puppets, the baby was then offered both dogs and allowed to pick one to play with. If the baby and the bunny both chose the same snack, then the baby would choose to play with the nice dog. If the baby and the bunny chose a different snack, the baby would choose to play with the mean dog.
With these findings, Hamlin concluded that "like adults, infants incorporate information about not only what people do (e.g., acting nicely or meanly) but also whom they do it to (e.g., a person who is liked or disliked) when they make social evaluations."
A second study included a third, neutral character that neither helped nor harmed the bunnies. A majority of the 14-month olds, but not the 9-month olds, continued to show a preference for the dog who was mean to the "different" bunny, suggesting a "mean baby."
"The fact that infants show these social biases before they can even speak suggests that the biases aren't solely the result of experiencing a divided social world, but are based in part on basic aspects of human social evaluation," says Hamlin added.
Reason for the bias, however, has yet to be explained. (Project Videos)