Infants can figure out whether you’re sincere or not

December 7th, 2011 - 1:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Dec 7 (IANS) Infants are quite capable of figuring out whether you are sincere or not — they will be wary if they have been tricked previously, reveals a study.

“Like older children, infants keep track of an individual’s history of being accurate or inaccurate and use this information to guide their subsequent learning,” said Diane Poulin-Dubois, professor in psychology at Concordia University Centre for Research in Human Development.

“Specifically, infants choose not to learn from someone who they perceive as unreliable,” added Poulin-Dubois, who led the study, the journal Infant Behaviour and Development reported.

As part of the study a group of 60 infants aged 13 to 16 months were tested. Babies were divided in two groups; with reliable or unreliable testers, according to a university statement.

In the first task, experimenters looked inside a container, while expressing excitement, and infants were invited to discover whether the box actually contained a toy or was empty. It was designed to show the experimenter’s credibility or lack thereof.

In the second imitation task, the same experimenter used her forehead instead of her hands to turn on a push-on light.

The experimenter then observed whether infants would follow suit. The result showed only 34 percent of infants whose testers were unreliable followed this odd task. By contrast, 61 percent of infants in the reliable group imitated the irrational behaviour.

“This shows infants will imitate behaviour from a reliable adult,” said Ivy, researcher of the study.

“The same behaviour performed by an unreliable adult is interpreted as irrational or inefficient, therefore not worth imitating,” said Brooker, a doctoral student in Psychology at the Centre for Research.

These results add to a growing body of research that suggests that even infants are adept at detecting who is reliable and who is not.

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