Human Morality Begins Early In Infants
February 8, 2012 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
NEW HAVEN, Conn., Feb. 7 (UPI) — A U.S. professor of psychology says research shows human morality begins in infancy.
Karen Wynn, a professor of psychology at Yale University, said at a Yale lecture “The Search for the Origins of Human Good and Evil,” that how infants and toddlers perceive the world can help adults understand their own reactions to events around them.
Humans are born with an ability to perceive and make sense of the world and evaluate the actions of others from very early in life, Wynn said.
In one experiment, infants and toddlers watched as a puppet tried to open a box, while another puppet helped the first one, while a third puppet hindered the first puppet.
The researchers found babies looked at the helping puppet longer, while toddlers reached for the helping puppet. “It doesn’t matter what age or what scenario,” Wynn said in a statement. “A strong majority prefers the ‘pro-social’ character.’”
However, things began to change when children were asked to respond to two foods. The puppets then chose between the two foods.
The research showed children identified with the puppet that liked the same food as they did and this then influenced how they viewed the hinder/helper experiments.
“Babies and infants were far more likely to approve of the similar puppets being helped, while having the same positive reaction when the puppets that chose different foods were hindered,” Wynn said. “This reaction seems to suggest the roots of the adult impulses toward xenophobia, prejudice and war.”