Do Babies Have a Moral Compass? Debate Heats Up
2012 08 16

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

US Silent on Psychologists Role in CIA’s Tortures: Doctors
2014-12-20 21:53
Physicians for Human Rights had not received any response from the US Federal Commission to their call to investigate the role of health professionals in CIA’s torture program, Deputy Director of the organization told Sputnik. December 19 (Sputnik) — US government has not responded to calls to prosecute doctors, who participated in CIA torture program, the Deputy Director of Communications for ...
Ziolebrities: Simon Cowell donates £100,000 to Israeli soldiers to please pregnant jewish girlfriend Lauren Silverman
2014-12-20 21:00
Cowell, 54, is also planning a secret trip to Israel soon as he embraces the Jewish faith of Silverman, 36 Gala: Billionaire Haim Saban with Cowell Simon Cowell has publicly donated nearly £100,000 in support of the Israeli army. The X Factor boss pledged the cash to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces at a US fund-raiser in Beverly Hills. The lavish gala ...
Former Chief Security Officer for NewsCorp: N. Koreans Not Behind Sony Hack, Interview Leak
2014-12-20 2:17
Hemanshu Nigam, a former federal prosecutor and former chief security officer for NewsCorp/Fox studios, says North Korea isn’t behind the Sony Hack. Nigam gave several bullet points for why the hack was likely an inside job. Attack code borrowed from a previous attack on Seoul, that’s why it’s in Korean. Private hackers typically borrow malicious code from other hackers.Nations state attacks follow ...
Sony Fires Back at Obama: Actually We Did Call the White House – Several Times
2014-12-20 2:13
Sony fired back at Obama after the press conference saying they had several conversations with the Obama White House before and after the movie was canceled. Via The Hollywood Reporter: After President Obama criticized Sony for its decision to cancel The Interview's release after theater chains decided not to show the film, the studio has issued a statement elaborating on the move. “The ...
The Bankster International
2014-12-20 1:55
Geopolitical analysis, the art of explaining power relationships through the prism of impersonal geography, can be a helpful tool for observers of the Great Game – but it also has its limitations. A case in point is the renewed US-Russia confrontation. Think tanks and policy insiders easily sell the narrative that from the dark days of the Cold War to ...
More News »