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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
Infants can pick out leaders from bullies: Study. Pixabay
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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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Feeding Probiotics to Infants Daily May Reduce Antibiotic Prescription in Future

For the study, the team pooled data from twelve studies together. The probiotics used in the reviewed studies were strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium

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Probiotics
Can probiotic use help reduce antibiotic prescriptions in children? Find it out here.

Feeding probiotics to infants and children daily may significantly stave off the need for antibiotic treatment, a finding that may help address the global rise in drug-resistant infections, said researchers.

The study found that infants and children were 29 per cent less likely to have been prescribed antibiotics if they received probiotics as a daily health supplement.

The results, published in the European Journal of Public Health, are very intriguing, the researchers said.

“Given this finding, potentially one way to reduce the use of antibiotics is to use probiotics on a regular basis,” said Daniel Merenstein, professor at Georgetown University.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), antibiotic resistance occurred among 500,000 people with suspected bacterial infections across 22 countries.

Reducing the use of antibiotics is one strategy in combating resistance.

Kids
Say no to your kids for junk food, instead add healthy snacks. Pixabay

“We already have evidence that consuming probiotics reduces the incidence, duration, and severity of certain types of common acute respiratory and gastrointestinal infections,” Merenstein said.

However, it is not clear how probiotics help fight infections.

Merenstein said: “There are many potential mechanisms, such as probiotic production of pathogen inhibitors, immune regulation, among others.

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“We don’t know all the mechanisms probiotic strains may leverage. But since most of the human immune system is found in the gastrointestinal tract, ingesting healthy bacteria may competitively exclude bacterial pathogens linked to gut infections and may prime the immune system to fight others,” he explained.

For the study, the team pooled data from twelve studies together. The probiotics used in the reviewed studies were strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. (IANS)