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The Moral Life Of Babies

May 25, 2010

It’s just a coincidence that the titles of my three continuous posts are similar. But the title of this post has been taken exactly as the article in New York Times about a new study on babies. The study being conducted in Yale university, tries to answer the psychological as well as the philosophical question of morality, and whether the idea of being moral or being able to decide between good and bad is in our genes? Are we genetically coded to be moral right from birth or we acquire it during our development. To tackle this issue, psychologist Paul Bloom and his group designed a set of studies involving puppet shows where the toddlers or the “baby scientists” were shown some puppet shows which consisted of a “good” puppet and a “bad” puppet. You can watch the video below and see how they define good and bad puppets. When the baby has seen the show many times, he/she is asked to choose between the puppets, and as their results show, 80% of the babies choose the good puppet. You can read the complete NY Times article here.

As for me, I am a bit skeptic about this study. I am not sure if the experimental conditions provided cues to the babies to choose a a particular puppet, either due to color preferences or cued by parents or the experimenter. For me, when the baby is born, it is still assimilating huge amount of information from the world, and the idea of morality, which is defined by society, still takes time to sink in. Babies are smart, and they assimilate information much faster than we adults do, but being born with the idea of morality- it is difficult for me to digest. Make your own conclusions about this study and comment if you want.

Video: NY Times

Photo: Flickr user creativesam | used under Creative Commons License

Filed under: Children,Research,Video

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