Babies Born With Sense of Right, Wrong

6-month-olds prefer 'good' to 'evil' characters
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2010 8:00 AM CDT
Zeke   (©Muffet)

(Newser) – Knowing right from wrong isn't just a product of social conditioning as Freud claimed—babies are born with a sense of morality, writes Paul Bloom in the New York Times magazine. Bloom, one of just a handful of baby morality researchers, recounts one of his experiments, in which babies as young as six months watched a scene in which a yellow square helped a red ball try to climb a hill, while a green triangle tried to push the ball back down the hill; when presented with the two shapes, the babies overwhelmingly preferred the helpful shape to the unhelpful one.

One-year-olds who watched a puppet trying to steal a ball from another puppet chose to punish the "bad" puppet, with some even smacking it on the head without being prompted. "A growing body of evidence suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life," Bloom writes. "Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bone."

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