New research has suggested that babies develop a sense of justice even at their tender age. Infants as young as 8 months old want to see antisocial individuals receive punishment. It shows that humans develop a sense of justice at a very tender age.
In contrast to this finding, the younger babies studied in the research prefer people being nice to each other, regardless of whether the person deserved punishment or not. According to psychologist Kiley Hamlin working at the University of British Columbia, This research has answered a question that evolutionary psychologists have been puzzled with for centuries. That is the question as to how is it that we have become social creatures even though it makes us more vulnerable to being cheated and exploited. The research has shown that it is in our psyche at a tender age to be wary of people who might harm us.
The team of researchers led by Hamlin had earlier found that kids want to be nice to each other, but were unsure of whether this was regardless of the person being nice or not. They wanted to know whether babies made an exception in case it was found that the person is a mean antisocial.
In their research, 32 5-month olds and as many 8-month olds were made to watch puppet shows featuring characters that harmed others. The groups for these kids watched the shows separately. The puppets were enacted as struggling to open the lid of a box containing toy. One of the puppets jumped in to help while the other used to coerce the box shut. The infants were then made to watch both these puppets play with a ball. It was clearly noticed that 5-month old babies did not mind taking the ball from any of the puppets, while the 8-month olds resisted as they realised the antagonist in the malevolent puppet.
This research has put to rest a lot of speculations about our evolution as a species. It is clear from the above experiment that the instinct of protecting oneself from a possible enemy comes naturally to us, even at an age as tender as 8 months old infancy.
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