An innovative study of babies found that even small children can feel guilt and want to atone for something they did wrong. The study found that such guilt was not necessarily a bad thing, because the two-year-olds who showed the most guilt went on to have fewer behavioral problems over the next five years.
- Dr. Grazyna Kochanska and her colleagues at the University of Iowa told toddlers that they should be very careful with a certain toy.
- The toy was special and precious because it had belonged to the researcher when she was a little child.
- However, the toy was rigged to fall apart. Once that happened, the researcher would observe the child.
Some children would cover their faces with their hands, avoid eye contact with the researcher, and otherwise express guilt. The ones who expressed the most guilt were more likely to behave well over the next five years, even if they scored low on their ability to focus and control their impulses.
(By the way, the researchers did assure the children that the toy was easily fixed, showing them perfect replicas and reassuring them that it wasn't their fault and that toy was as good as new.)
Labels: research, emotions, babies
Posted By: Aspen/CRC