Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Are Babies Born Good? Do Our Children Come to Us as Blank Slates?
I've seen this study before, the one where researchers use puppets to determine whether babies as young as three months old have a sense of morality. CBS's 60 Minutes recently ran an update on this baby research, and here's the video. The research indicates that babies prefer those who help others, that they dislike mean people and want mean people, as well as those unlike themselves, to be punished. The results suggest that humans are born with a sense of morality and also the tendency to favor those who like the same things they like or discriminate against the other (those they deem unlike themselves) due to superficial differences.
The research also shows something that many parents have already observed: young children are selfish (Mine mine mine!). However, after children are older and have been educated, research shows they are less selfish, more fair, even generous. So, there's hope for the human race after all.
I've been interested in such work for a while. In 2007, for instance, I wrote a post at BlogHer.com, "Are Babies Born a Blank Slate?" The research says no, no they aren't.