Babies make quick judgments about adults’ anger & are ’emotion detectives.’

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Frightened babies adapt their behaviour
Frightened babies adapt their behaviour

I read with great interest, but no real surprise, that babies are emotion detectives.

They watch and listen to our emotions, remember how we acted in the past, and use this to predict how we will act in the future.

Studies show that babies are very tuned into other people’s anger, so naturally  it’s  important to be mindful of how powerful that emotion is for babies.

Two new research studies with hundreds of 15-month-old infants demonstrate that babies form similar generalisations about others and make attempts to appease adults they consider prone to anger.

The research, by scientists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS), reveal for the first time that 15-month-old babies generalize an adult’s angry behaviour even if the social context has changed.

“Our research suggests that babies will do whatever they can to avoid being the target of anger,” said lead author Betty Repacholi, an I-LABS faculty scientist. “At this young of an age, they have already worked out a way to stay safe. It’s a smart, adaptive response.”

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