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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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Children With Pets During Infancy Less Likely To Develop Allergies: Study

In another experiment, which included 249 children, it showed that the allergy rate for children growing up without a pet was 48 per cent

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Allergies
People raised in cities without pets at risk from mental illness. Pixabay

Children who live with pets when they are infants are less likely to develop allergies and other diseases later in childhood, a Swedish study found.

The study sought to learn about the possible benefits of germ exposure to infants living with pets in their home.

For the study, the researchers from the University of Gothenburg included 1,029 children who were either seven or eight years old.

In the first experiment, findings, published on the open access site, ‘PLOS ONE’, the researchers found that the incidence of allergies (which in this study included asthma, eczema, hay fever and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis) was 49 per cent for children who had not been exposed to pets as infants.

Allergies
The number fell to 43 per cent for children who had lived with a single pet as an infant and to 24 per cent for children who had lived with three pets. Pixabay

The number fell to 43 per cent for children who had lived with a single pet as an infant and to 24 per cent for children who had lived with three pets.

Also Read: Tips To Keep Pets Warm in Winter

In another experiment, which included 249 children, it showed that the allergy rate for children growing up without a pet was 48 per cent, 35 per cent for children with one pet and just 21 per cent for children who had grown up with multiple pets.

Taken together, the two datasets showed that the more exposure infants have to pets, the less likely they are to develop allergies later in life, the team concluded. (IANS)