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Infants Show Good Judgment

If only adults showed as much sound judgment as an infant! Through a series of tests, Yale University's Infant Cognition Center has found that babies as young as six to ten months old know what's right and wrong. Researchers sat babies down in front of a roller coaster-like track to watch a cartoon-eyed wooden toy try to climb its way to the top of one of the hills. As the toy climbed, other toys were designed to come along to either help it over the hump or push it backwards like a bully. When babies were then given the opportunity to play with any of the toys on the track, nearly every infant chose the toys that helped out. When researchers introduced neutral toys that weren't involved in the experiment at all, the babies still turned their backs on the bullies.

What's especially fascinating is that researchers believe the human qualities of the toy that was trying its best to climb the hill—the googly, cartoonish eyes—were what stirred a sense of loyalty from the babies. When researchers removed the eyes to make it less human, the children did not exercise the same level of judgment.

"It's incredibly impressive that babies can do this," said study lead author Kiley Hamlin. "It shows that we have these essential social skills occurring without much explicit teaching."

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