Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Baby Geniuses

Babies love me. Babies have loved me since the day I stopped being a baby myself. The only group of people who love me more than babies, are folks with Down Syndrome. To babies and the mentally disabled, I'm Elvis Presley.

My husband theorizes that they are attracted to my large, round, cartoon-character type eyes. He reached this conclusion after we accidentally found ourselves in the middle of an ANIME convention. That was the day I realized that the only people who love me more than babies and the mentally disabled are Japanese animation freaks.

Perhaps there is another reason why strange babies reach out to me in discount department stores.
Six- and 10-month-old babies are much more capable judges of character than previously thought. Not only can infants pick out a good Samaritan, they tend to identify with them, according to a Yale University study published in the journal Nature.
So, it seems babies aren't hitting on me because they think I'm cute, babies are hitting on me because they think I'm nice.
The study released last month presented babies with a diorama-like display of an anthropomorphic circle struggling to make it up a hill. Just when it appeared that all hope was lost, a heroic triangle appeared, and pushed the circle to the top. The round climber bounces, clearly elated to have reached the summit. The same scenario is played out again, only this time a square appears at the top of the hill and pushes the circle to the bottom.

The babies were then asked to pick a toy-- the helper or the hinderer, as scientists called them. One hundred percent of 6-month-olds and 87.5 percent of 10-month-olds chose the helper. The results were consistent even when the triangle and the square swapped places as good guy and bad guy. In several other iterations of the experiment, the helper, regardless of shape or color, won out.
Aha! Babies understand that I am a helper in a world of hinderers.
While other research has shown that babies make assessments about people based on their physical appearance-- they gravitate toward attractive people-- these new findings show more complex levels of judgment.
OK, so they think I'm nice and cute. Gosh, babies are so much smarter than I thought. Maybe I should stop saying such bad things about them behind their little backs.

But, I don't understand, if we're such good judges of character when we're babies, what happens to that ability when we grow up? If we lived in a society of only 10-month-olds, we wouldn't need Dr. Phil.

No comments: