Thursday, June 4, 2020

856: Nature or Nurture......

In the fall of 1990, the Infant Cognition Center was established at Yale University, where Stanley Milgrarn installed his shock machine thirty years earlier. 
In the corridors it is also called the "Baby Lab". If that sounds boring, take it from me: there are few places where more exciting research is done. 
The questions that the researchers of this lab ask themselves can be traced back to Hobbes and Rousseau. 
What is innate? What has been learned? Are we good or bad by nature? 
Dr. J. Kiley Hamlin is an Associate Professor of Psychology at UBC. She received her doctorate from Yale University in 2010. 
Her work explores the earliest developmental origins of the human moral sense, by examining precursors to moral cognition and action in preverbal infants.
She and her team demonstrated that infants have known the difference between right and wrong since the age of six months. 
And even better: they prefer the good. Now you may be wondering how Hamlin was so sure. After all, babies can do almost nothing. 
One thing babies can do: WATCH. So the researchers decided to stage one play after another for the six- and ten-month-old test babies.
For example, they examined which doll they reached for when you performed a puppet show in which one figure was helpful and another an asshole. 
And yes: the helper was always a favorite.  Almost all babies stretched out their arms to the good guy.  
In 2011, J. Kiley Hamlin and Karen Wynn put on puppet shows for very young children: 5-month-old infants. 
The infants watch a puppet bouncing a ball. We’ll call this puppet the “bouncer puppet.” Two other puppets stand at the back of the stage, one to left and the other to the right. 
After a few bounces, the ball gets away from the bouncer puppet and rolls to the side of the stage toward one of the other puppets. 
This puppet grabs the ball. The bouncer puppet turns toward the ball and opens its arms, as if asking for the ball back.

This is where the puppet show gets interesting, for a young infant, anyway!.  Sometimes, the puppet with the ball rolls it back to the bouncer puppet. 

This is the “giver puppet” condition. Other times, the infant sees a different ending. 
As the bouncer puppet opens its arms to ask for the ball, the puppet with the ball turns and runs away with it. 
This is the “taker puppet” condition. Although the giver and taker puppets are two copies of the same animal doll, they are easily distinguished 
because they are wearing different colored shirts, and color is a quality that infants easily distinguish and remember.
Afterwards almost all babies stretched their hands out towards the giver. It proved, that infants prefer individuals who act prosocially toward unrelated third parties over those who act antisocially.

For centuries, speculation had been given as to how babies view the world, and now there was cautious evidence of innate morality. 

Homo sapiens is not a blank leaf. In the cradle we already prefer the good, which is in our nature. As I said, by nature most of us are OK.....
Thank you for your attention again....

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Rutger Bregman, "De meeste mensen deugen",, 2019

The Discussion

[13:17] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): didn't the children reach for the nicest color of the shirts?
[13:18] herman Bergson: ask the right question Beertje.....
[13:18] Jack Lust (jacklust): I'm guessing it would have been mixed around for some tests
[13:18] CB Axel: I'm sure they traded which color was the giver and which was the taker.
[13:18] herman Bergson: After I finish my text and worked on the picture....I wondered....GREEN .....RED.....
[13:18] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): babies prefer red
[13:19] herman Bergson: The green on was the giver
[13:19] herman Bergson: they?
[13:19] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): they see that color first
[13:19] herman Bergson: They chose for the green one after the show
[13:19] CB Axel: My question is, why don't we let babies vote? When adults vote the takers win the most elections.
[13:20] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont):
[13:20] Oceane (oceane.madrigal) is offline.
[13:21] herman Bergson: Why can't I give you the text ot the lecture...a notecard Inkaku?
[13:21] herman Bergson: I could...:-)
[13:21] iמʞαʞů (inkaku.capalini): thank you so much!
[13:22] herman Bergson: Tehre must be a youtube link here in the classroom
[13:23] herman Bergson: There it  is....
[13:23] herman Bergson: I addressed this theme already years ago.....
[13:23] herman Bergson: Look behind me,,,that is the youtube
[13:23] 60 minutes:  60Minutes has just been used by Beertje Beaumont!
[13:23] herman Bergson: forgot to check it
[13:23] iמʞαʞů (inkaku.capalini): nice!
[13:24] 60 minutes:  60Minutes has just been used by CB Axel!
[13:24] herman Bergson: but it shows moral behavior of toddlers if I am not mistaken
[13:24] Jack Lust (jacklust): there is a show on netflix about babies too, I have no watched it though
[13:25] Jack Lust (jacklust): so how many babies reached for the other one?
[13:25] herman Bergson: it is about the Baby Lab :-)
[13:25] Jack Lust (jacklust): the one that ran away with it
[13:26] Jack Lust (jacklust): and was that ever followed up on as to what happened to that kid later in life?
[13:26] herman Bergson: I have no idea Jack :-)
[13:27] Jack Lust (jacklust): I doubt it would be an accurate early warning signal or anything, but a correlation between them could be interesting
[13:27] CB Axel: Maybe the babies liked the giver better because they figured that if they ever lost their toy the giver would give it back.
[13:27] herman Bergson: creepy idea Jack, but it crossed my mind too when you. asked :-)))
[13:27] Jack Lust (jacklust): can't just pay attention to the sunny side, after all, heh
[13:27] CB Axel: They didn't think the taker was mean. They thought the giver was a pushover they could get things from.
[13:28] CB Axel: Babies are selfish jerks. lol
[13:28] iמʞαʞů (inkaku.capalini): hahahah
[13:28] herman Bergson: LOL
[13:28] Jack Lust (jacklust): lol
[13:28] herman Bergson: There goes the research down the drain :-)))
[13:29] herman Bergson: But isn't a crazy interpretation actually :-)
[13:30] herman Bergson: I'll discuss it in the next lecture
[13:30] herman Bergson: But you are a mean baby :-))))
[13:30] CB Axel: :)
[13:30] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont):
[13:31] herman Bergson: Nevertheless...even if it were motivated by selfishness....the babies reached for the good guy :-)
[13:32] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): how many babies were tested?
[13:32] herman Bergson: With respect to the nature/nurture is interesting to note that we probably have an innate moral sense.....
[13:33] herman Bergson: For an answer to that question you have to google the research reports Beertje
[13:34] herman Bergson: But I can say that the tests with babies have been replicated by others.....and came with the same results
[13:34] Jack Lust (jacklust): I think I'm more curious about the babies that reached for the bad guys
[13:34] herman Bergson: they were killed, Jack :-)))
[13:34] herman Bergson: sorry
[13:35] Jack Lust (jacklust): lol
[13:35] herman Bergson: But I understand your an issue indeed
[13:35] Jack Lust (jacklust): disposable test babies
[13:35] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): maybe colorblind:)
[13:35] herman Bergson: have to take that observation seriously indeed
[13:36] herman Bergson: no...because the good guy was green and the babies responded to that one
[13:36] CB Axel: They grew up and were elected president of the US, Jack.
[13:36] Jack Lust (jacklust): easy, let's not go there
[13:36] herman Bergson: Ahhh....and they learned to wave with the bible!
[13:37] herman Bergson: no...indeed Jack....
[13:37] herman Bergson: let's stick to the babies ^_^
[13:38] herman Bergson: Well...I guess the message is clear today...
[13:38] Jack Lust (jacklust): I think the study needs some follow up on what the babies were like later in life
[13:39] herman Bergson: Well....could be in interesting project.....
[13:39] Jack Lust (jacklust): far above my pay grade, lol
[13:39] herman Bergson: But I complicated, because it is not only the primary behavior of the child as a baby, but also who will be his educators during his life...
[13:40] herman Bergson: I don't think it would lead to really conclusive observations
[13:40] Jack Lust (jacklust): no, probably not, but could be interesting to see if there is any correlation
[13:41] herman Bergson: More important is to see that homo sapiens is born with a moral compass
[13:41] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): only homo sapiens?
[13:41] herman Bergson: So Rousseau might be more right than Hobbes about us :-)
[13:42] Jack Lust (jacklust): I tend to agree with that
[13:42] herman Bergson: Yes Beertje....
[13:42] herman Bergson: The reason for that is that moral behavior needs self reflection....
[13:42] herman Bergson: you need to be able to ask yourself....what I just it right or wrong...
[13:43] herman Bergson: no other creature on earth is able to this but homo sapiens
[13:44] herman Bergson: self consiousness
[13:44] CB Axel: What about those chimps (or were they monkeys) who knew that they were treated unfairly when the other one got the better treat for the same behavior?
[13:44] herman Bergson: some animals have it to some limited degree
[13:44]  Łîly Łŭsŧ (lily11223355): I was thinking canines as well
[13:44] herman Bergson: The bonobos,, CB...indeed....
[13:45] herman Bergson: as I a limited degree you find self awareness in primates
[13:45] herman Bergson: add to this...they have no awareness of time
[13:46] herman Bergson: like we have.....we have a past , present and future
[13:46] Jack Lust (jacklust): and they will also kill babies of rivals, which is clearly wrong in a society
[13:46] herman Bergson: chimps can be most cruel...
[13:46] Jack Lust (jacklust): nature is scary, lol
[13:47] herman Bergson: Well..I am glad I am not part of nature :-)
[13:47] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): ofcourse you are
[13:47] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): we all are
[13:47] Jack Lust (jacklust): it's not a moral decision for them anyway, it's a survival strategy
[13:48] CB Axel: As it was for the babies
[13:48] herman Bergson: You are right Beertje, biologically we are a part of nature....ecologically we aren't :-)
[13:48] CB Axel: If they want to survive they have to take from gullible givers.
[13:49] herman Bergson: Your interpretation still worries me, CB....^_^
[13:50] CB Axel: Maybe when I watch the video I'll change my mind.
[13:50] CB Axel: Maybe if I see the babies I'll see something good.
[13:50] herman Bergson: Take your time and eas my mind :-))
[13:51] herman Bergson: I guess today we created some hope agaon for mankind....
[13:52] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): we are saving the world here:)
[13:52] herman Bergson: SO, let me  thank you all again for your participation....
[13:52] Jack Lust (jacklust): there will always be good people, thankfully
[13:52] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.
[13:52] herman Bergson: Unless you have that final remark or question....
[13:52] herman Bergson: Class dismissed....
[13:53] iמʞαʞů (inkaku.capalini):               (`'·.¸(`'·.¸ ¸.·'´)¸.·'´)
[13:53] iמʞαʞů (inkaku.capalini):  ♫ ´·.¸¸.♫   A*P*P*L*A*U*S*E  ♫.¸¸.·`♫
[13:53] iמʞαʞů (inkaku.capalini):               (¸.·'´(¸.·'´ `'·.¸)`'·.¸)  
[13:53] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Thank you Herman
[13:53] herman Bergson: Thank you...
[13:53] CB Axel: Bye, everyone. See you Thursday.
[13:53] Jack Lust (jacklust): thanks herman and everyone!
[13:53] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): bye CB take care
[13:53] herman Bergson: Bye CB :-)
[13:53] bergfrau Apfelbaum: danke Herman and class:-)
[13:53]  Łîly Łŭsŧ (lily11223355): Gracias Herman , take good care everyone

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