Babies Are Utterly Mean During Their First Months of Life

Study finds babies love it when others mistreat people they can't stand

By on March 14th, 2013 12:05 GMT

Angelic portrayals of babies aside, it appears that these tiny humans can be utterly mean when still at a very young age.

A new research claims that, by the time they are 9 months old, babies are nothing if not likely to tap into their innate meaner side. Furthermore, it seems that, by the time they turn 14 months old, this mean side becomes ever harder to ignore.

Since they cannot really take up the habit of mistreating people themselves, babies must settle for feeding their meanness by watching the people they can't stand being treated poorly by others, the Association for Psychological Studies explains.

In case anyone was wondering, babies decide whether or not they like someone based on how many things they believe to have in common with that particular individual.

“We were surprised—and more than a little chagrined—to find that babies actively prefer individuals who mistreat someone whose tastes differ from theirs,” argues lead researcher Karen Wynn of Yale University, a specialist currently working with the Yale University.

On the other hand, experiments carried out with the help of puppets have shown that, should a person decide to help an individual whom the babies believe that they have something in common with, then that person is bound to also be approved of by the infants.

“But while our findings show that we may be built to dislike differences, we are also built to like similarities—and humans all around the world are similar in a multitude of ways,” Karen Wynn went on to argue.

Backing up these statements, professor Kiley Hamlin of the University of British Columbia made a case of how, “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 researchers who brought forth these findings concerning the behavior of babies explain that their relating to the people around them in this manner is no more and no less than a means to form social bonds based on what they believe they have in common with these individuals.

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