Psychology

Published on June 22nd, 2015 | by anonymous

0

Is it instinct to be kind or cruel?

Is it instinct to be kind or cruel? It’s probably instinct to be both or opportunistic.

A new study in Psychological Science indicates that schadenfreude is present in babies. Schadenfreude is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. It’s easy to assume cute little babies are bundles of rainbow and happiness instead of realizing that they’re young people. Not only does this study suggest that babies express schadenfreude, it also suggests they express favoritism towards the individuals who share similar preferences.

The study suggests that people prefer others they share more in common with and also prefer people that are mean to those they have less in common with.

In previous studies, infants have shown a preference for people who help others. However, that goodwill may only extend to those they identify as being like them.

The psychologists put on a puppet show for 9-14 month-old babies. The infants were first made to choose what food they preferred. They then had the babies watch a puppet show with two rabbit character; one character had the same preference the other did not.

In the next experiment, the children had to watch a puppet show where a dog puppet was mean and nice to either of the rabbit characters. The babies favored the dog character when it was mean to the rabbit character that didn’t share the baby’s preference.

Of course, adults do not explicitly view those with different food preferences as deserving of mistreatment. However, both adults and children negatively judge even trivially dissimilar individuals and anticipate that these individuals will behave poorly in the future (which may render them deserving of punishment). In some cases, children will themselves carry out harmful acts against dissimilar others, which suggests that they may view such acts as justified.

While it may not mean all babies are doomed to be racist, sexists, ageists, or a bigot in general, it does show that the tendency to distrust or dislike people unlike ourselves develops even earlier than we thought.

Bigotry may give one a slight control over insuring our preference are reinforced. This suggests that individuals that aren’t smart enough to see the selfish benefits of being fair in modern society may resort to bigotry, favoritism and schadenfreude.

Other reference: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-03/being-mean-girl-starts-crib

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