Sunday, May 16, 2010

Babies Prefer Helpers to Hinderers.

Paul Bloom, a Yale psychologist, has done some nifty studies in which babies watched puppets and toys in little stories in which some characters helped others, while other characters hindered others.

The babies overwhelmingly preferred the helpers.

When toddlers where shown similar stories, they punished the hinderers.

Morality is built in. It is not merely a social construct.


Gweneth said...

Not so cut and dry if one reads the whole article.

"Although the studies appear to show that morality is hard-wired into babies brains, some psychologists urged caution.
Dr Nadja Reissland, of Durham University, said babies started to learn the difference between good and bad from birth.
'Everything hinges on who decides what is normal,' she said. 'By saying pushing the ball up the hill is helpful"

Gruntled said...

I think she is wrong. The social constructionist ideology is being driven to more and more untenable ideas of when in our lives we could be indoctrinated with morality and sex roles and so on. We are hardwired for some very important distinctions.

Peaches said...

Do the babies know that pushing the ball up the hill is helpful?

Gruntled said...

I think anyone could grasp that helping one character do what it is trying to do is helpful.

Peaches said...

"I think anyone could grasp that helping one character do what it is trying to do is helpful."

Even six month olds? Come on, this is not real science.

Gruntled said...

How do you account for the high regularity of the babies' responses, then?

Peaches said...

I think the experimenters should answer that question or else explain how a six month old baby knows someone is helping someone else. I have a 6 month old grandson and it doesn't happen. Sometimes we see what we want to see, as a sociologist you know that to be true.