Babies Of 6 Months Know Right From Wrong

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Babies Of 6 Months Know Right From Wrong
At the age of six months most babies can hardly sit up, yet according to psychologists, they are already able to tell the difference between good and evil.

Some simple experiments involving babies have shown that we have a strong sense of morality from quite an early age, in fact possibly from birth.

In one experiment which involved puppets, babies aged six months old preferred the 'good' helpful characters but rejected unhelpful, 'naughty' ones. Professor Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University, who led the research, has studied morality in babies for years. He said: 'A growing body of evidence suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life.....Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bones.'

In one experiment, the Yale researchers got babies aged between six and twelve months to watch a puppet show in which a colourful wooden shape with eyes tries to climb a hill. Sometimes the shape is helped up the hill by a second toy, while other times a third character pushes it down.

After watching the show a few times, the babies were shown the helpful and unhelpful toys. They clearly preferred the helpful toys and spent much longer looking at the 'good' shapes than the 'bad' ones.

In another experiment, they made the babies watch a puppet cat play ball with two toy rabbits. When the cat rolled the ball to one rabbit, it rolled the ball straight back. But when the cat rolled it to the second rabbit, it picked up the ball and ran off.

'In both studies, five-month-old babies preferred the good guy - the one who helped to open the box; the one who rolled the ball back - to the bad guy,' said Professor Bloom.

When the same tests were repeated with 21-month-old babies, they were given a chance to give treats to the toys or take treats away. The majority of toddlers punished the 'naughty rabbit' by taking away treats and one toddler actually smacked the 'naughty rabbit'.

May 2010

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