Babies display empathy for victims
Babies show empathy
for a bullied victim at only six months of age, according to researchers at
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Hebrew University in Israel.
The findings indicate that six-month old babies are able to identify figures who ‘deserve’ empathy and which ones do not.
In the first experiment, researchers found that
five-to-nine-month-old infants demonstrate a clear pro-victim preference. They
showed 27 infants two video clips depicting a square figure with eyes climb a
hill, meet a circular friendly figure, then happily go down the hill together,
all the while displaying clear positive or neutral feelings. In the second
video, however, the same round figure hits and bullies the square figure until
it goes back down the hill, showing distress by crying and doubling over.
More than 80% of the participants chose the figure that had shown distress, thus showing empathic preference towards the bullied figure.