Infants are a cruel and biased people according to a new study. The research shows that babies as young as nine months are cruel and horrible to other babies dissimilar to them, but biased and kind toward people similar to them.
Kiley Hamlin and Karen Wynn, researchers from the University of British Columbia, explains how they came to the conclusion that infant babies can be cruel:
“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.”
The research was published in the journal Psychological Science. Hamlin and Wynn examined two groups of infants aged nine months and 14 months. They used puppets to try and determine the type of food they preferred, either green beans or graham crackers.
They found that babies preferred the puppets who harmed the puppet with the opposite food preferences. The study also showed that the older babies tended to be more biased and more likely to mistreat others who were different.
Kiley Hamlin said that the results that infant babies are a cruel and biased people were shocking:
“We wanted to see if we could tell whether infants had that same kind of judgment. It was shocking how robust the results were. 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. Or perhaps they recognize the alliances that are implied by social interactions, identifying an ‘enemy of their enemy’ as their friend.”
Do you agree with the implications of the research that infant babies are inherently a cruel and biased people from birth?