Tags: mean | babies | infants | schadenfreude

Mean Baby? Science Shows Infants Can be Nasty, Enjoy Misery of Others

Thursday, 14 Mar 2013 11:00 AM

By Alexandra Ward

A new study reveals that babies can have a mean steak, and even wish harm on people they perceive as different from them.

Babies as young as 9 months can experience what some people call schadenfreude, a German term describing the pleasure experienced when someone they dislike or consider threatening experiences harm.

Urgent: Should Pope Francis Allow Women Priests, Contraception? Vote Here Now.

A study led by University of British Columbia psychological scientist Kiley Hamlin tested 112 babies, ranging in age from 9 to 14 months. First, the babies were given a choice of snack — green beans or graham crackers. Next, the researchers performed a puppet show, where Puppet 1 chose the same snack the baby picked and Puppet 2 chose the other food. Puppet 1 then either helped, harmed, or acted neutrally toward Puppet 2.

The subjects were then given a choice of which puppet they wanted to play with and "almost all the infants preferred the character who harmed the dissimilar puppet over the character who helped him," according to a press release for the study.

"Infants might experience something like schadenfreude at the suffering of an individual they dislike," Hamlin told Psychological Science. "Or perhaps they recognize the alliances that are implied by social interactions, identifying an 'enemy of their enemy' (i.e., the harmer of a dissimilar puppet) as their friend."

Hamlin theorizes that babies, like adults, tend to form biases not only based on what people do, but whom they do it to.

"The fact that infants show these social biases before they can even speak suggests that the biases aren't solely the result of experiencing a divided social world, but are based in part on basic aspects of human social evaluation," she told Psychological Science.

While the study's results might cause some to worry about the wider effects of xenophobia and racism, Hamlin says the outcome doesn’t necessarily mean that those things are inevitable.

"Rather, this research points to the importance of socialization practices that recognize just how basic these social biases might be and confront them head-on," she said.

Editor's Note The IRS’ Worst Nightmare — How to Pay Zero Taxes

Related stories:

Omega-3s in Pregnancy Tied to Healthy Babies

Baby Cured of HIV Brings New Hope to AIDS Fight

Doctor's 'Gutsy Move' Led to Baby's HIV Cure

© 2015 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
You May Also Like

Feds Seize Memorabilia Worth $20M to Sports Counterfeiters

Friday, 30 Jan 2015 06:04 AM

Nearly $20 million in fake sports memorabilia were seized by Federal authorities and the National Football League as par . . .

UC Davis Ebola Case? Adult Patient With Virus' Symptoms Admitted

Thursday, 29 Jan 2015 20:25 PM

A patient with Ebola-like symptoms was admitted to UC Davis Medical Center in California on Thursday in "good" condition . . .

Mummified Mongolian Monk Found Sitting in Lotus Position

Thursday, 29 Jan 2015 19:54 PM

A mummified Mongolian Buddhist monk, which may be as many as 200 years old, has been discovered sitting in a lotus medit . . .

Top Stories

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved