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Are humans good or evil by nature? Science finds out.

For nearly all of human existence, people have debated whether we’re inherently good, corrupted by society and peers or whether we’re inherently bad, with society and law keeping our evil urges in check. With the help of babies, science might have discovered the answer to this age old question.

One way of asking about our most fundamental characteristics is to look at babies. Babies’ minds are a wonderful showcase for human nature. Babies are humans with the absolute minimum of cultural influence – they don’t have many friends, have never been to school and haven’t read any books. They can’t even control their own bowels, let alone speak the language, so their minds are as close to innocent as a human mind can get.

The only problem is that the lack of language makes it tricky to gauge their opinions. Normally we ask people to take part in experiments, giving them instructions or asking them to answer questions, both of which require language. Babies may be cuter to work with, but they are not known for their obedience. What’s a curious psychologist to do?

Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to speak to reveal your opinions. Babies will reach for things they want or like, and they will tend to look longer at things that surprise them. Ingenious experiments carried out at Yale University in the US used these measures to look at babies’ minds. Their results suggest that even the youngest humans have a sense of right and wrong, and, furthermore, an instinct to prefer good over evil.

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  1. jimmyjazzphotog reblogged this from iheartchaos
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  4. tylorius reblogged this from iheartchaos and added:
    Interesting, looks like babies may not be entirely useless after all.
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  12. durkinator27 reblogged this from iheartchaos and added:
    Score one for the optimists!
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