babies and morality

Internally, I’m a pretty amoral person. I know better than to engage in actually illicit activities, but I take joy in trying to think of scams (e.g., ways to get more free parking, ways to avoid paying shipping, etc).

In my pursuit to raise kids who have a better moral compass than I do, I’m always interested in research on the development of morality. Here is some good/bad news on that front.

A study in Cognition, Tasimi and Wynn showed 12- and 13-month-olds infants puppets that were helpers (they helped another puppet prop open a difficult box) or hinderers (they slammed the box closed on another puppet). When the helper puppet offered 1 cracker and the hinderer offered 2, infants rejected the large offering. Win for the helpful puppet!

But when the hinderer offered 8 (to the helper puppet’s 1)… the babies revealed a different pattern of preference… But can you blame them??? EIGHT CRACKERS!!!


Check out the online article’s supplementary movies in Appendix A!

Thanks to super surgeon/academic mom Joan Ko for the heads up on the article!


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