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To act unfairly: Even babies understand that dominance pays off better

To act unfairly: Even babies understand that dominance pays off better


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Bullies get more in life: Dominance pays off - babies already understand that
Being fair and just is one of the characteristics that are most highly praised by many people. Only one often does not seem to get very far with fairness and justice. Even babies understand that: An experiment showed that even the youngest assume that dominance pays off.

Some have more of life
Snatched away the parking lot, pushed ahead at the cash register, taken the most coveted food at the buffet: People who behave more dominantly are often looked at wrongly by others, but they often get more out of life than people who are always fair and fair. Even babies understand this, as an experiment by scientists in the United States has shown.

Experiment with toddlers
Whoever is good and reserved, obviously has less of life. Even small children assume that socially dominant people are treated differently.

A US research team found this out in an experiment that they report on in the journal “Cognition”.

The scientists observed 80 infants who had to watch videos with dolls. The 17-month-old children were sitting on their parents' laps.

The behavioral researchers measured how long the little ones looked at something.

Children expect benefits for more dominant behavior
First, the little ones could see that the dolls were happily seated on a purple and a brown chair, according to a report by the magazine "New Scientist". There were no conflicts.

When Lego pieces were given to the dolls, the babies were surprised that some received more than others. The little ones watched the screens longer.

Then the dolls fought, with the more aggressive winning. When the dolls got Lego pieces again, the toddlers were surprised that the dominant doll was no longer given.

According to the researchers, the little ones seemed to expect the more aggressive to get more.

"They are tuned to what they observe - who is more powerful or more competent - and use it to make further predictions," said team member Hyo Gweon at Stanford University in California.

Why the fair distribution does not work
One of the study's authors, Jessica Sommerville of the University of Washington, Seattle, said "the fact that dominance and resource concepts are so early on and established can have ramifications for larger societal issues."

It could also help explain why people advocate the equitable distribution of resources, but mostly fail to do so and some still have much more than they deserve.

All children tested were from the United States. Laura Van Berkel from the University of Cologne, according to the "New Scientist", wonders whether toddlers from more egalitarian countries would have behaved in the same way. (ad)

Author and source information



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