Thursday, November 22, 2007

Even babies know right from wrong...

So maybe there is something to natural law, and Romans 2. and oh, that "evangelical saying"

(AGI) - London, 22 Nov. - Long before being able to speak, babies understand the reasons underlying the choices of those around them and are able to distinguish altruists from those counter to them or just simply ignoring them. This was shown in a study carried out in the US by a team from Yale University (Connecticut), which found that infants between 6 and 10 months have a sort of innate ethical morality which causes them to act in accordance with the well-known evangelical saying "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

This ability is clear well before babies are able to socialize, which suggests that it is an innate instinct rather than behaviour learnt from parents or adults in general. In the study, published in Nature, the team of researchers used a group of toys to evaluate the reaction of babies between 6 and 10 months old.

In the first experiment the little ones watched a large-eyed wooden toy trying with difficulty to climb a hill. The "climber" interacted with other toys in different ways: a puppet, in the shape of a triangle, tried to help him and pushed him up the hill, while another, in the square of a square, tried to hinder his progress in any way possible or even pushed him down.

After having shown the little ones the scene, the scientists observed their reactions, giving the babies puppets in the shape of triangles and square. All the 6-month-old babies choose the triangle-altruistic ones, as did 14 of the 16 10-month-old ones.

The second experiment inverted the scenario, with the "climber" wanting to get down the hill (to exclude the possibility that the young ones were influenced solely by the direction of the movement).

In a third test the young ones of both age groups preferred a neutral puppet over the one that hampered the "climber's progress, and an altruistic puppet over a neutral one.

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