Babies Keen Observers Of Social Cues

10/10/2016 5:14:16 PM
written By : Team India Se Print

Babies pay close attention to what food is being eaten around them — and especially who is eating it — according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study adds evidence to a growing body of research suggesting even very young children think in sophisticated ways about subtle social cues.

“Kids are sensitive to cultural groups early in life,” said Katherine Kinzler, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of psychology and human development at Cornell University. “When babies see someone eat, they are not just learning about food — they are also learning about who eats what with whom. An ability to think about people as being ‘same versus different’, and perhaps even ‘us versus them,’ starts very early in life.”

Kinzler and her co-authors, Zoe Liberman, Amanda Woodward and Kathleen Sullivan, set up a series of studies in which they showed more than 200 one-year-olds a series of videos of people expressing like or dislike of foods. And this is what they found. When the babies saw two people in the video speak the same language or act as if they were friends, the children expected them to like the same foods. When they saw two people who spoke different languages or acted as if they were unfriendly, the babies expected them to like different foods.

The studies took advantage of a well-known fact in developmental psychology: Babies will look longer at novel actions or things that deviate from their general expectations of the world.

And parents might consider that their children are watching as they eat together. “If you feed your child the perfect diet, yet your child sees you and your friends and family eating junk food, she is presumably learning about foods from her social experiences, too,” she said.

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