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Adults often form fast opinions about each other's personalities, especially when it comes to negative traits. If we see someone argue with another driver over a parking space, for instance, we may assume that person tends to be confrontational.
The two new research studies with hundreds of 15-month-old infants demonstrate that babies form similar generalizations about others and make attempts to appease adults they consider prone to anger.
The work expands upon the researchers' earlier findings on self-control in 15-month-old babies, which revealed how babies use others' emotions to guide their own behavior.
The new studies provide new insights into young children's social-emotional development by showing for the first time that 15-month-olds generalize an adult's angry behavior even if the social context has changed.
“Once babies have detected that someone’s prone to anger, it’s hard to dismiss," Repacholi said. "They’re taking a better-safe-than-sorry approach, where they’re not going to take a risk even though the situation has apparently changed.”
Learn more about the findings in a university news release.
Want to know more about social-emotional development? Check out "Understanding Emotions," a free online training module by the I-LABS Outreach team. Learn more about it here »