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Babies may not have an innate sense of right and wrong, says study


A new study debunks the theory that babies have innate morals.


Paul Zimmerman

A new study aims at debunking the theory that babies have an innate sense of right and wrong.

Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand found that an earlier Yale study suggesting babies had an inner moral compass may be incorrect on closer inspection.

The Yale study caused a sensation when it was published in the journal Nature.

According to Medical Daily, the earlier study made 6-month-old and 10-month-old babies watch a human interaction, one positive, one negative.

In the two scenes the babies watched, a climber is either helped or hindered while scaling a mountain by a second person.

When helped the climber was able to reach the summit and subsequently jumped for joy.

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In the Yale study, the babies overwhelmingly chose the helper.

Yet, the New Zealand researchers suggest that the babies did not necessarily choose the helper but rather, they chose the person who caused the elated reaction at the summit, which happened to amuse them, reported Live Science.

The researchers set out to correct the errors made in the first study by adding a neutral person and having the climber jump for joy whether helped or hindered, said e! Science News.

Though far from sociopaths, the study showed that babies may not have a moral compass after all.

Indeed, when any climber lept for joy, the babies chose anyone, helper or hinderer, that helped them witness the amusing celebration.

When presented with a neutral person who did not assist nor hinder the climb, the babies chose them.

The new findings were published in journal PLoS One.