Have you ever looked at your cherubic little baby, all gooey and sticky and innocent-eyed, and thought... You know something. I can see it in your eyes. I certainly have, especially if I was being a bit lackadaisical about my parenting and relying heavily on the fact that I had no eye witnesses. I would be reading a book instead of playing on the floor with my son, and then his head would swivel around and he would look me dead in the eye like, I see you. And I was right. It looks like babies can logically reason before they can talk, according to a new study, so I guess good luck with every slacking off as a parent again.
The new study published on Thursday in the journal Science shared research proving that infants under the age of 1-year-old can actually think logically and negate conclusions that don't necessarily make sense. And if that doesn't sound like the premise of your next horror movie, I just don't know what does. As Justin Halberda, a child psychologist from Johns Hopkins University, explained to The Verge, "One of the central pieces that separates human reasoning from all other forms is to negate a premise — you see that if it’s not A, it’s something else. That’s quite fancy stuff.”
So how did the researchers in this particular study deduce that these infants were able to reason? It's all in the eyes, apparently. They studied the eyes of 48 children under the age of one as these children were shown some animations. The babies were shown two different objects, a flower and a dinosaur. These objects are placed behind a barrier in the animation and one is taken away by a cup. For example, the cup takes away the dinosaur, which would logically mean the flower was left behind the barrier. If the barrier was removed and the dinosaur was still there, the babies apparently looked confused. Because they appeared to understand that it should be gone by process of elimination.
I wonder if these genius babies are worried that their cover has been blown?
Researchers have long believed that babies have reasoning powers before their language skills fully develop. A 2015 study published in Science Daily found that babies "can make transitive inferences about a social hierarchy of dominance." Lead author of the study, psychologist Stella Lourenco from Emory University told the publication:
We found that within the first year of life, children can engage in this type of logical reasoning, which was previously thought to be beyond their reach until the age of about four or five years.
The researchers in this study used a non-verbal game with puppets to see if babies between the ages of 10 months to 13 months could understand which character should dominate over the other, and the majority of the babies were able to consistently deduce dominance, as Lourenco explained to Science Daily:
Everybody knows that babies learn rapidly, like little sponges that soak in incredible amounts of knowledge. This findings tells us about how humans learn. If you can reason deductively, you can make generalizations without having to experience the world directly. This ability could be a crucial tool for making sense of the social relationships around us, and perhaps complex non-social interactions.
In all seriousness, studies like these that prove babies can use logical reasoning are important. They could potentially help diagnose developmental delays if scientists understand more about how a baby's mind works.
I'm just saying... the baby uprising might be coming, that's all. And if you were hoping to put on some Paw Patrol and recharge with a coffee and some social media time without anyone noticing, you might be out of luck.
Because your baby might be totally on to you.