Study: Babies Delight in the Suffering of Others


Before my children were born, I held with Thomas Sowell's view that "Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late." Practical experience as a parent has only confirmed this view. Now a psychological study provides evidence that babies may look innocent, but aren't:

A University of B.C.-led psychology study found that infants as young as nine-months-old embrace those who pick on individuals who don’t share their preferences.

Study lead author Kiley Hamlin said the findings reveal that babies are constantly busy assessing their surroundings, trying to determine who their friends and enemies are. [...]

The youngsters were then shown a puppet show where the character demonstrated the same food preference as the baby. Another puppet demonstrated the opposite preference.

The puppets harmed, helped or acted neutrally towards the puppets with different or similar food preferences.

Results showed that the babies far preferred the puppets who harmed the puppet with the opposite food preferences to their own. One baby even planted a kiss on the puppet she liked. [...]

Hamlin said the findings suggest that babies feel something like schaudenfreude, a German term describing the pleasure experienced when someone you dislike or consider threatening experiences harm.

Link -via Dave Barry | Photo: Tom Check

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