Even at eight months old, we seem to have a desire to see evildoers punished. Researchers showed groups of babies a puppet routine in which one elephant puppet treated a duck puppet well, while another was mean to his puppet peer. In a later scene, a moose puppet rewarded the elephant for his behavior with a toy, or punished him by taking a toy away. The infants then chose their favorite moose.
The five-month-olds showed a preference for the moose who had been nice to everyone—even the elephants who’d behaved badly. But most babies eight months old and older liked the moose who punished the mean elephants, ABC News reports. “It’s hard to argue that parents are teaching their children to punish at eight months. It’s a very complex idea. If they are learning it, they’re doing it on their own, suggesting that there is some kind of system for learning it,” said a researcher. Click to watch videos of the puppet situations. (Read more babies stories.)