Your baby knows exactly when you are angry and is constantly attempting to appease you!

Your baby knows exactly when you are angry and is constantly attempting to appease you!

A recent study says that infants as young as 15-months are easily able to understand when adults are angry and attempt to appease them

Adults often over analyse and form opinions about others quickly. For instance, if we see a person fighting for parking, we automatically make negative assumptions about this person's confrontational behaviour. Surprisingly, a new study has now found that even 15-month-old infants form quick assumptions about angry individuals and attempt to appease them.

What the study says

This study was conducted by the University of Washington's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS), and made some surprising revelations about the behaviour of infants and their power to analyse a situation.

They first analysed how babies react to anger and then they found how babies are attempting to appease adults.

Here's what they found during the first part of their research:

  • The study reveals that 15-month-old babies can also generalise an adult's angry behavior
  • Babies also make attempts to do what it takes to appease angry adults
  • The researchers found that even at this young age, they already adapt a way to stay safe
  • They also found that babies are constantly paying attention to adult emotional behaviour
  • Babies are also able to assume that a person with a history of anger will react the same way again

How was this research conducted?

This is the most interesting part of the research. Here's how they did it:

  • About 270, 15-month-old infants were selected for the research. This included a fair mix of girls and boys, who sat on their parents' lap across the researcher.
  • The baby was then made to see a demonstration of ways to play with a series of toys.
  • While the second researcher reacted either in a neutral way or a negative way to each of the toys, the first researcher noted the babies' reaction.
  • The babies were then asked to pick up their choice of toy from the lot. Surprisingly, they picked up toys, towards which the researcher was neutral.
  • When the same procedure was repeated with reverse reactions from the researchers, the babies still avoided picking up the toy towards which the researcher showed anger.

In a release from the university, lead author, Betty Repacholi, an I-LABS faculty scientist, explains, "Once babies have detected that someone's prone to anger, it's hard to dismiss. 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."

Watch the video on how the experiments were done for their earlier studies:

During the second part of the research that were published in the journal Infancy, they found the following:

  • Babies were able to come up with appeasement gestures in situations that involved anger-prone adults
  • The researchers selected 72, 15-month-old (boys and girls), who observed the researchers' angry or neutral reaction
  • The researchers then brought out a new attractive toy and 69 percent of babies who had earlier witnessed an angry reaction refused to play with that toy

Repacholi adds, "I was so surprised to see the infants give the toys away -- it was like they were appeasing or compromising with the adult,"  said. "They didn't want to risk making the previously angry adult mad again. They didn't act this way with the other adult who had not shown anger."

What it says about an infant's emotional understanding?

The study clearly demonstrates that babies, as young as 15 months are able to identify emotional behaviour of adults and react or behave to play safe. This study makes it evident that adults must be careful of their reaction and behaviour around kids.

Read: 5 negative things kids learn from their parents 

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(News Source: University of Washington | Image courtesy: istock)

Written by

Deepshikha Punj

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