Babies have no ‘moral compass’

Thursday, August 16, 2012 - 10:00 in Psychology & Sociology

The research casts doubt on a previous study that suggested infants have an innate moral compass, allowing them to see individuals as 'good' or 'bad'. Image: fatihhoca/iStockphoto New University of Otago research is casting doubt on a landmark US study that suggested infants as young as six months old possess an innate moral compass that allows them to evaluate individuals as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.The 2007 study by Yale University researchers provided the first evidence that 6- and 10-month-old infants could assess individuals based on their behaviour towards others, showing a preference for those who helped rather than hindered another individual.Based on a series of experiments, researchers in the Department of Psychology at Otago have shown that the earlier findings may simply be the result of infants’ preferences for interesting and attention grabbing events, rather than an ability to evaluate individuals based on their social interactions with others.The Otago study was recently published...

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