Babies as Young as Six Months Can Spot an Enemy

Article excerpt

Byline: Fiona MacRae

AT THE tender age of six months, babies have yet to say their firstwords or take their first hesitant steps.

They can, however, tell their friends from their enemies.

Scientists have shown that this ability is present from the first few months oflife, suggesting it is something that we are all born with.

Researchers studied how two groups of babiesreactedtoagame in which

a wooden toy repeatedly tried and failed to scale a hill.

The babies, who were aged between six and ten months old, looked on as a secondtoy helped shunt the climber toy up the hill, or a third pushed it down. Theyrepeatedly reached for the helpful toy, suggesting they liked it more.

The helpful toy was preferred by all 12 of the six-month-olds and 14 of the 16ten-month-olds, the scientific journal Nature reported.

The researchers from Yale University said: This supports the view that ourability to evaluate people is a biological adaptation, universal and unlearned.

Researcher Kiley Hamlin said it was likely the phenomenon had its roots deep inevolution, with the ability to tell the difference between helpful sorts andfreeloaders benefiting the survival of our hunter-gatherer forebears. …