Babies Understand Friendship, Meanies and Bystanders

Published February 11, 2015 by teacher dahl

babies

Babies who are just over a year old already comprehend complex social interactions — they understand what other people know and don’t know, and expect them to behave accordingly, new research shows.

In the new study, 13-month-olds who watched a puppet show in which one character witnessed another behaving badly expected the witness to shun the villain. But the babies did not expect a shunning if the villain acted badly when the witness wasn’t looking.

Even at this young age, the babies were mostly very intrigued by the drama, said Yuyan Luo a psychologist at the University of Missouri and co-author of the study.

“Almost all babies look really concerned when they see the puppet violence,” Luo told Live Science.

Social smarts

In the study, the two characters — call them A and B — interacted in a friendly manner, but then B hit a third character, C.

“Babies think A should do something about it if they see B do something bad,” Luo said

Before they can even talk and walk, babies seem to exhibit social savvy, research shows. At around 8 months old, infants like to see wrongdoers punished, and they may develop sympathy for victims of bullying by 10 months of age.

Likewise, even very young babies seem to understand others’ perspectives, a talent called “theory of mind.” Although researchers once thought that theory of mind did not develop until the preschool years, more-recent studies suggest that it begins to emerge by 7 months to 18 months of age.

from: Live Science

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