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That’s Not Nice: New Study Says Babies Are Complete and Total Jerks

If you ask any parent, they will probably tell you their baby is the sweetest most precious little thing the world has ever known. I sure would, but it seems like that might not be the case after all. The results of a new study show that children as young as nine months display a preference towards individuals who mistreat others who are different than they are. Put simply, babies are jerks. Except mine, because she’s the sweetest most precious little thing the world has ever known.

University of British Columbia professor Kiley Hamlin studied nine and 14 month old babies at Yale University as a grad student. The study gave the children a choice between graham crackers and green beans to establish a preference, and then showed them a puppet show wherein one puppet select the graham cracker and the other chose the green beans.

The babies then watched a puppet show where the puppet who picked the same food as they did dropped a ball, and another puppet either helped them by returning the ball, or refused to help by stealing it from them. As would be expected, the babies preferred the puppets that were nice and helpful to the puppet that chose the same food as they did in the first puppet show.

What’s more surprising, is that when the roles are reversed, and the puppet who drops the ball is the one who picked the opposite food as the babies, the children showed a preference for the puppet who was mean to the puppet who chose differently than they did.

That’s stone cold, babies.

The margins weren’t even close. Almost every baby, whether nine or 14 months showed a clear preference for the puppet who was mean to the puppet that liked the other food. That either means that babies like it when people are mean to those different than themselves, or that there’s some kind of feud between graham crackers and green beans that I’m completely unaware of.

(via Psychological Science, image via Steve Snodgrass)

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