Thoughts from the Fact that Babies Like to Help People

Zhou Zheng

PureInsight | June 26, 2006

[] I recently
read a very interesting piece of news.  Scientists at the Planck
Institute in Germany did a study on 18-month old babies. 
Researchers tested several different scenarios.  In all the
scenarios, the researchers needed help.  For example, they
couldn't reach an item on the floor. During the experiments, the babies
inadvertently rushed to help people, including strangers.

Researchers also found that the babies indeed intended to help, rather
than treating the items as toys.  For example, when researchers
dropped clips while trying to hang up clothes, babies would help to
pick up the clips for them. However, when researchers simply dropped
the clips onto the floor, babies didn't react.  There were many
similar examples.  The babies also showed no expectation of
getting anything in return for their help.  The study results were
published on the March 3, 2006 edition of the scientific journal Science.

Researchers pointed out that this result was quite meaningful because
of the young age of the test subjects. They were still in diapers and
couldn't even speak. However, they were fond of helping others. 
In 84% of the scenarios, babies started helping others within 10
seconds.  Researchers didn't have to send help signals such as
making eye contact.

The study made me think of today's adults and even juveniles. 
They have formed a set of notions on how to deal with others. If
someone else needs help, their first reaction is to determine if
helping others will be beneficial to or harmful for themselves. We
should feel ashamed of our own behavior compared to babies'.

From another perspective, if there's a way that enables people to
return to their true selves and treat others kindly, won't society be
greatly improved by it?


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