Are human beings born with a moral fabric or is the society that ingrains it into them? This has been the subject of debate for philosophers for a decade now. A new study by Japanese researchers has finally shed light on the origin of morality. The study has revealed that children can make moral judgments.
A study conducted by researchers from Japan’s Osaka University, in collaboration with Otsuma Women’s University, NTT Communication Science Laboratories, and the University of Tokyo revealed that infants under 8 months old can punish an individual for their antisocial behavior. The findings support the idea that the motivation behind punishment is intrinsic, and not learned. The study is published in Nature Human Behaviour.
The concept of punishment for antisocial behavior is universal in all cultures, but it is not well understood how it can be applied to the development of moral behavior in children. The researchers conducted the study to understand how infants develop their decision-making and agency.
According to the study’s lead author, Yasuhiro Kanakogi, morality is an important part of what makes us human. It’s not clear how it can be learned, especially when it comes to punishment. For the study, the researchers wanted to know if third-party punishment is present in children’s early development.
The researchers created a new research paradigm by introducing children to a computer system that features animations. The infants could then control the system’s actions by looking at an object and destroying it. This method was facilitated by a gaze-tracking system that allows children to control their actions.
After introducing the children to the computer system, the researchers showed a video that showed an image of a geometric agent that appeared to have been hurt by another. The infants then looked at the image and whether or not they punished the other geometric agent.
The researchers found that children were more likely to punish the aggressor by increasing their gaze.
The study’s findings could have important implications for the development of infant cognitive research. This new research could also help in developing a more accurate understanding of how children develop their cognitive abilities.