Do Babies Have a Moral Compass? Debate Heats Up
2012-08-16 0:00

By Michelle Cooke | STUFF.co.nz

It turns out babies don’t have a moral compass after all, New Zealand researchers have found.

An Otago University study has quashed the findings of a landmark 2007 Yale study which found that infants could tell the good guys from the bad guys.

[Click here to see VIDEO which demonstrates the experiment]


Screengrab from Otago Experiment


The prestigious university’s study became an international sensation as it was the first to suggest that babies could assess individuals on their behaviour towards others. The findings have become widely accepted since the study was published, and more than one hundred other research papers have referred to it, which is a signal of its success, Otago University postdoctoral fellow Dr Damian Scarf said.

But Scarf and his Otago University colleagues were suspicious of the Yale findings, and since discussing their own research with international colleagues, they’ve found out they weren’t the only ones.

The team decided to conduct their own experiment to see whether babies did indeed have a moral compass, or whether they just had a preference for "attention grabbing events".

They simulated Yale’s original experiment, which used wooden figures attempting to climb a hill.

In one scenario, babies would watch as another figure - the helper - would come and push the climber up the hill, and once it reached the top it would bounce, as if it was doing a little dance. Another scenario showed the climber reaching half-way and then being pushed down the hill by another figure, the hinderer. It did not bounce after reaching the bottom of the hill.


CHOICES: A baby selects its preferred character after watching them both attempt to climb a hill.
The majority of babies preferred the scenario which included the helper, which the Yale study said indicated that babies had the innate capability of determining one’s moral character.

The Otago University experiment used identical materials to the Yale study, the only difference was that the character’s eyes moved whereas they were fixed in the American study.

When replicating the Yale study, 12 out of 16 infants chose the helper over the hinderer. But then the Otago team changed things around, and made the climber who was pushed to the bottom of the hill do a dance, while the climber who was pushed to the top remained still. In this case, 12 out of 16 infants chose the hinderer over the helper.

When both climbers - one reaching the top with assistance from the helper and one being pushed to the bottom by the hinderer - did a dance, it was an even split, with eight infants choosing the helper scenario and eight choosing the hinderer scenario.

"We thought the infants were just associating the helper with the bounce. We thought if we switched just the bounce and kept everything else the same that it would be interesting to see what happens," Scarf said.

The study showed that morality was not innate, he said.

"It is something that develops with experience."

[...]


Read the full article at: stuff.co.nz












Also tune into Red Ice Radio:

Jeanice Barcelo - Hour 1 - Conscious Conception & Possession in the Womb

Jeanice Barcelo - Hour 1 - Hospital Birth Trauma & Baby Mutilation

Bruce Lipton - The Biology of Belief

Sonia Barrett - Hacking the Mind & Breaking Reality Codes

Lynne McTaggart - The Intention Experiment







Related Articles
World’s first GM babies born
Babies Know What’s Boring, Study Finds
More Babies Today Have Irregular Head Shape
Babies left screaming in terror as they are swung round head of ’baby yoga’ guru
A Dept. of Family and Protective Services Licensed Daycare, Caught Doping Babies
The Truth About Genderless Babies
The brains of human and Neanderthal babies were almost identical


Latest News from our Front Page

West’s tributes to late Saudi King reveal hypocrisy not democracy
2015-01-27 2:16
Hypocrisy is not usually regarded as a virtue of leadership, yet judging by the gushing tributes paid to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah by various Western governments and establishment figures on his death, there are those who believe it should be. In the UK this hypocrisy has been stretched to breaking point with the decision to fly the flags over Downing ...
Millions of GMO insects could be set loose in Florida Keys
2015-01-27 2:34
Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases. Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood. "This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease," said Michael Doyle, executive ...
Furguson Scared The Super - Rich So Bad They're Planning Exits
2015-01-27 0:22
According to a speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Ferguson and Occupy absolutely terrified the world’s super-rich, and now they’re buying airstrips and farms in remote locations to escape to. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which was held between January 21-24, over 2,500 leaders in the fields of business, international politics, academia and journalism met to discuss ...
The Ring Of The Nibelungs
2015-01-27 0:20
Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King (also known as Ring of the Nibelungs, Die Nibelungen, Curse of the Ring, and Sword of Xanten) is a 2004 German television film directed by Uli Edel and starring Benno Fürmann, Alicia Witt, Kristanna Loken, and Max von Sydow. The film is based on the Norse mythology story Völsungasaga and the German epic poem Nibelungenlied, ...
Google Street View Shows NAACP Bombing a Hoax
2015-01-26 22:58
Caught in the act: NAACP passing off old soot marks as new in ‘bomb’ hoax NAACP Colorado Chapter President Henry D. Allen Jr. has been caught in the act of passing off old soot marks as new damage from the recent ‘explosion’ at the Colorado Springs chapter headquarters. Although Gotnews.com has previously remarked on the minimal damage as reported by the ...
More News »