Infants prefer a nasty moose if it punishes an unhelpful elephant | Not Exactly Rocket Science | Discover Magazine

Below is a snippet from a recent article at  I’m intrigued by the assertion that the baby’s impulse emerges from a moral judgment.  It seems valid to also consider this from an NVC consciousness point of view, that the baby reacts because he/she values needs for support or safety, thus the preference could emerge from a value judgment rather than a moral judgment.  What do you think?




If you saw someone punching a stranger in the street, you might think poorly of them. But if you found out that the stranger had slept with the assailant’s partner, had kicked a kitten, or was Justin Bieber, you might think differently about the situation. You might even applaud the punch-thrower.

When we make moral judgments, we do so subtly and selectively. We recognise that explicitly antisocial acts can seem appropriate in the right circumstances. We know that the enemy of our enemy can be our friend. Now, Kiley Hamlin from the University of British Columbia has shown that this capacity for finer social appraisals dates back to infancy – we develop it somewhere between our fifth and eighth months of life.

Hamlin, formerly at Yale University, has a long pedigree in this line of research. Together with Karen Wynn and Paul Bloom, she showed that infants prefer a person who helps others over someone who hinders, even from the tender age of three months. These experiments also showed that infants expect others to behave in the same way – approaching those who help them and avoiding those who harm them. Now, Hamlin has shown that our infant brains can cope with much more nuance than that.