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Study Suggests That Infants Can Distinguish Between Leaders and Bullies

The infants expected obedience only when the bully remained in the scene and could harm them again if they disobeyed, the researchers said

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Infants, baby, WOmb
Winter care for your little ones. Pixabay

Infants, by the age of 2, have the potential to distinguish between the power asserted by a leader and a bully, finds a study, shedding light on how babies make sense of the world.

The study found that 21-month-old infants can distinguish between respect-based power asserted by a leader and fear-based power wielded by a bully.

“Our results provide evidence that infants in the second year of life can already distinguish between leaders and bullies,” said Renee Baillargeon, Professor at the University of Illinois.

“Infants understand that with leaders, you have to obey them even when they are not around; with bullies, though, you have to obey them only when they are around,” she added.

For the study, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Baillargeon developed a series of animations depicting cartoon characters interacting with an individual portrayed as a leader, a bully or a likeable person with no evident power.

She measured infants’ eye-gazing behaviour as they watched the same animations.

Infants
Representational image. Pixabay

“In one experiment, the infants watched a scenario in which a character, portrayed either as a leader or a bully, gave an order to three protagonists, who initially obeyed,” Baillargeon said. “The character then left the scene and the protagonists either continued to obey or disobeyed.”

The infants detected a violation when the protagonists disobeyed the leader but not when they disobeyed the bully, Baillargeon found.

In another experiment, the team tested whether the infants were responding to the likeability of the characters in the scenarios, rather than to their status as leaders or bullies.

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“In general, when the leader left the scene, the infants expected the protagonists to continue to obey the leader,” Baillargeon said.

However, when the bully left, the infants had no particular expectation: The protagonists might continue to obey out of fear, or they might disobey because the bully was gone.

The infants expected obedience only when the bully remained in the scene and could harm them again if they disobeyed, the researchers said. (IANS)

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EU Leaders Agree Making the 28-member Bloc Carbon Neutral by 2050

EU agrees to become carbon neutral by 2050

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EU carbon
EU aims to become carbon neutral by 2050. Wikimedia Commons

BY VISHAL GULATI

European Union leaders meeting in Brussels have agreed to make the 28-member bloc carbon neutral by 2050.

However, coal-reliant Poland has been given time until June to fully endorse the commitment to implement the agreed EU objective.

Climate experts told IANS for the first time the EU leaders, who met in Brussels on Thursday, came out with a time-frame by agreeing to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050, thereby opening the way to start a discussion on raising the EU’s 2030 climate target as soon as possible.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who is at the UN climate change conference (COP25), said on Friday that he was encouraged by the fact that the European Union decided to move ahead with its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050.

“This example of #ClimateAction needs to be followed worldwide,” he tweeted.

Carbon Neutral
EU’s top priority is to reduce Carbon Emissions. Pixabay

In November last year the European Commission put forward a proposal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, a much needed long-term goal to bring the EU closer to meeting the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement goal and keeping temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Wednesday’s European Green Deal communication indicates that the European Commission will propose a new, substantially increased 2030 climate target by summer 2020.

Now that the net-zero emission goal is endorsed, the EU’s top priority is to adopt a new, increased climate target for 2030 well before next year’s UN Climate Summit, COP 26, in November.

EU leaders invited the European Commission to present a proposal for a new EU 2030 climate target in good time ahead of the UN Climate Conference.

COP26, taking place in Glasgow, is the international deadline by which all parties to the Paris Agreement must submit new and far more ambitious greenhouse gas emission reductions targets for 2030.

However, say climate experts, a couple of concessions were negotiated.

Poland has not been ready to fully commit to the implementation of the objective, but has also not blocked the collective endorsement of climate neutrality by 2050.

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Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe Director Wendel Trio told IANS: “Setting a target of net zero emissions by 2050 is a vital and necessary first step to limit the escalating climate crisis.”

“But to jump-start climate action now in line with the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal, the EU needs to increase its target for 2030, not just for 2050.” (IANS)