Good, Evil, Bias, & Virtue

60 Minutes had a great story that aired on Sunday the 19th of November 2012, reporting on studies with babies to attempt to find out at what point humans display an understanding of morality.

Interviewed are Karen Wynn and her husband/collaborator Professor Paul Bloom.

Babies look longer at things they like than those those they don’t. Given a choice between two puppets, one helpful and one not, Dr. Wynn found, “Babies, even at three months, looked towards the nice character and looked hardly at all, much, much, much shorter times, towards the unhelpful character.”

And when given a choice between a puppet that demonstrated a food choice matching the child – how do you think that influenced the experiment?

When using more complex tests, Professor Bloom’s study looked at older children and comparing them with the babies’ choices said, “What we’re finding in the baby lab, is that there’s more to it than that – that there’s a universal moral core that all humans share. The seeds of our understanding of justice, our understanding of right and wrong, are part of our biological nature….We are predisposed to break the world up into different human groups based on the most subtle and seemingly irrelevant cues, and that, to some extent, is the dark side of morality.”

Bloom adds, “Around age 8, they start choosing the equal, fair option more and more. And by 9 or 10, we saw kids doing something really crazy – deliberately giving the other kid more. They become generous. Chalk one up to society.”

Apparently virtue can be taught.

And what of teenagers on the verge of adulthood?From this NBC Nightly News segment aired on the 20th of November 2012 – you can see for yourself.The NBC clip offers additional segments showing humanity at it’s best.


There is hope.

Be Inspired.

Jeffrey A. Limpert




Image Information:

Babies help unlock the origins of morality


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