Navigation Links
Babies Seem to Sense Who's Boss
Date:1/28/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Even babies seem to know that might makes right, according to new research that suggests infants use size as a measure to predict who will prevail when two individuals have a conflict.

Scientists from Harvard University and the University of California, Los Angeles, conducted five experiments on 144 infants ranging from 8 months to 16 months old, gauging their reactions to videos of interactions between cartoon figures of various sizes.

When a larger figure yielded to a smaller one -- an unexpected outcome -- the babies watched much longer, an average of 20 seconds compared to 12 seconds, study author Lotte Thomsen said. Previous studies indicated that infants tend to watch something longer when it surprises them.

These reactions suggest people are either born with -- or develop at a very early age -- some understanding about social dominance and how it relates to comparative size, an association found in human and animal cultures alike, Thomsen said.

"To us, this is one of many studies that suggests that babies come into the world with a quite sophisticated set of basic conceptual building blocks that they use to make sense of the world and learn about it," said Thomsen, a research fellow in Harvard's department of psychology and an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Copenhagen.

"Learning this is crucial to get along in the social world humans create together and -- ultimately -- crucial for surviving and prospering and having healthy offspring," she added. "So, it would be possible for evolution to pre-program us in ways that help us discover the kinds of social relationships that surround us."

The study is reported in the Jan. 28 issue of the journal Science.

The videos used in the research depicted a large and small block with eyes and a mouth bouncing across a stage in opposite directions. Infants watched the two blocks meet in the middle, impeding one another's progress. They then saw either the large or the small block bow and step aside, deferring to the other.

The babies' reactions indicated that 8-month-olds failed to grasp the significance of the larger block deferring to the smaller one, the study said. But those aged 10 months to 16 months consistently demonstrated surprise at depictions of the larger yielding to the smaller, suggesting this conceptual understanding develops between 8 and 10 months of age.

Thomsen noted that the animal world is rife with examples of size-related dominance, such as birds and cats that puff up to look physically larger to adversaries, or dogs that prostrate themselves to demonstrate submission.

"Bigger animals tend to be more dominant, and being dominant and having priority to get the lion's share of resources may make each individual even bigger," Thomsen said. "Interestingly, it also goes together in human languages and cultural practices. We speak and think about a 'big' leader . . . or the 'little' man on the street that is getting 'stepped on.' We also prostrate or bow to show respect to gods and superiors."

George Hollich, an infant researcher and an associate professor of developmental psychology at Purdue University, said the new study adds to the understanding of infants by suggesting they may be aware of social rank based on size alone.

Does this mean babies feel their larger parent is dominant?

"It means they might start out with that bias," Hollich said. "I think they're sort of learning this somewhere in their environment. If the smaller parent is always in charge, they'll see that after awhile."

More information

For more on infant development, go to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Lotte Thomsen, Ph.D., research fellow, department of psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., and assistant professor, psychology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; George Hollich, Ph.D., associate professor, developmental psychology, Purdue University, W. Lafayette, Ind.; Jan. 28, 2011, Science


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Prevention Is Key Research Goal for Premature Babies, Scientists Say
2. Two Babies Born a Year Apart After Ovary Transplant
3. Naptime Helps Babies Remember New Things
4. Pioneering treatment reduces disability in premature babies with serious brain hemorrhage
5. 1 in 5 At-Risk U.S. Babies Doesnt Get Hepatitis B Vaccine
6. New, National Amnesty International Report Finds Appalling U.S. Death Rate for Women Having Babies, Systemic Failures and Shocking Disparities in Maternal Health Care System; Louisiana is 46th Among All States in Maternal Mortality
7. New, National Amnesty International Report Finds Appalling U.S. Death Rate for Women Having Babies, Systemic Failures and Shocking Disparities in Maternal Health Care System; Georgia is 50th Among All States in Maternal Mortality
8. New, National Amnesty International Report Finds Appalling U.S. Death Rate for Women Having Babies, Systemic Failures and Shocking Disparities in Maternal Health Care System; Maryland is 48th Among All States in Maternal Mortality
9. New, National Amnesty International Report Finds Appalling U.S. Death Rate for Women Having Babies, Systemic Failures and Shocking Disparities in Maternal Health Care System; District of Columbia is 51st Among All States in Maternal Mortality
10. New, National Amnesty International Report Finds Appalling U.S. Death Rate for Women Having Babies, Systemic Failures and Shocking Disparities in Maternal Health Care System; Arkansas is 44th Among All States in Maternal Mortality
11. New, National Amnesty International Report Finds Appalling U.S. Death Rate for Women Having Babies, Systemic Failures and Shocking Disparities in Maternal Health Care System; Delaware is 42nd Among All States in Maternal Mortality
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Babies Seem to Sense Who's Boss
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... ... certification process to promote standards of excellence for the field of eating disorders, ... March 22 – 25, 2018 in Orlando, Florida at the Omni Resort at ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... ... Alzheimer’s or dementia. However, many long-term care insurance companies have a waiver for care ... is the 90-day elimination period, when the family pays for care, is often waived, ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Talented host, ... lowdown on sciatica in a new episode of "Success Files," which is an ... and innovation and investigates each subject in-depth with passion and integrity. , Sciatica ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... CitiDent and San Francisco ... using cutting-edge Oventus O2Vent technology. As many as 18 million Americans are estimated ... in breathing. Oral appliances can offer significant relief to about 75 percent of ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... , ... Asante, a nationally recognized health system in southern ... home health joint venture through an agreement, effective October 1, 2017, to create ... health company with Asante, delivering clinically integrated care, for the past eight years. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... Oct. 10, 2017  NDS received FDA 510(k) clearance in May ... battery-powered display stand specifically designed for endoscopy environments. An innovative secondary ... a clinical solution to support the improvement of patient outcomes, procedural ... ... ...
(Date:10/4/2017)... -- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza ... Care is helping communities across Massachusetts , ... no-cost* flu shots through the end of the month. *Some ... ... flu shot is by the end of October, according to the Centers ...
(Date:10/2/2017)... Labs announces the European launch of their new low volume, high ... in Cambridge, U.K on October 4th. The ... with unprecedented speed and sensitivity while using far less sample volume ... ... ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: