Babies Know 'Bigger' Means 'Stronger' Starting At 10-Months-Old!

Fri, January 28, 2011 10:55am EDT by 1 Comment

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Babies know who’s boss! A new study finds that infants equate size with power when they’re still in the crib!

If you grew up with an older brother or sister, then you knew the deal—they’re in charge, back off! Now, new research shows that babies as young as 10-months-old know the “law of the jungle” —that size equals power. So researchers wanted to know: Is this innate or something we learn?

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Researchers at Havard University studied how 150 children, ranging from 8- to 16-months-old, reacted to cartoons showing different characters of many different sizes trying to compete or “pass” one another. Sometimes the bigger and stronger character beat out the smaller one, while in other situations the tiny character was the victor, the Science journal reports. Babies reacted to the concept of the power struggle, more so when the bigger and tougher guys won over the little ones.

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Other experiments relating to this proved that babies had to be at least 10-months-old to grasp the concept of “bigger is better.” This hypothesis doesn’t prove that the skill is innate, just that we might use it and understand it when we reach a certain age. “Our work shows that apparently, infants come prepared to understand abstract aspects of their social world,” researcher Susan Carey tell Science.

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The study’s lead author Lotto Thomsen adds to this sentiment, saying, “Traditional kings and chieftains sit on large, elevated thrones and wear elaborate crowns or robes that make them look bigger than they really are, and subordinates often bow or kneel to show respect to superior humans and gods. Many animals, like birds and cats, will puff themselves up to look physically larger to an adversary, and prostrate themselves to demonstrate submission, like dogs do. Our work suggests that even with limited socialisation, preverbal human infants may understand such displays.” Wow, so babies really are wise beyond their years! Other research even proves that some six-month-old children know the difference between friend and foe. Can you believe it?

–Leigh Blickley

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