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Babies are Judging You with Kiley Hamlin



Dr. J Kiley Hamlin is an Associate Professor of Psychology and the Canadian Research Chair at the University of British Columbia. There she directs the Centre for Infant Cognition, where she examines the developmental origins of moral judgments in preverbal babies and young toddlers. She is the recipient of numerous awards and grants from the Association for Psychological Science, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the John Templeton Foundation, among others. In this episode, we discuss her research which illuminates when and how babies express the earliest forms of a moral sense.


Paper referenced in this episode: Hamlin, J. K., & Van de Vondervoort, J. W. (2018). Infants’ and young children’s preferences for prosocial over antisocial others. Human Development, 61(4-5), 214-231. https://doi.org/10.1159/000492800


APA citation: Cazzell, A. R. (Host). (2020, August 25).  Babies are Judging You with Kiley Hamlin [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from https://www.ambercazzell.com/post/msp-ep38-KileyHamlin

NOTE: This transcript was generated automatically. Please excuse typos and errors.


Kiley Hamlin (01:15):

Baby methods are grounded in the idea that maybe don't actually do very many complex things. So you have to figure out a way to access what they're thinking and feeling in very simple ways that they're capable behaviors that they're capable of expressing essentially. So people tend to use patterns of attention to different kinds of stimuli. So does a baby look longer at this kind of event or cause that kind of event or this character versus that character? If they do so reliably at a group level, you might be able to make inferences about what drives their understanding or their preferences for different events and characters. So what we do to study helping versus harming, or in the early cases, we looked at what we would really call helping versus hindering. So sort of helping someone get their goal versus preventing them from getting their goal.


Kiley Hamlin (02:22):

The first study that we did, we showed babies the same two events over and over again until babies become what we say officially bored or habituated to the events. So basically we showed them a little climbing character with eyes and the character looked up, the Hill, looked up a Hill moved to the middle of the Hill and then was unable to climb up any further. So he would try and fall back down and try and fall back down. And on one kind of event on helping events, another little character would come and push him by bumping him twice to the top of the Hill. And then the character was over, go back down the Hill and the climber character would be at the top sort of achieving his goal. Whereas on other events, the hindering events a third character would come bump the climber down the Hill preventing him from getting his goal and he would go back up the Hill and off the stage.


Kiley Hamlin (03:26):

So basically we just showed babies, these climbing and helping and hindering events over and over again until they were bored with them. And all we can reason about what babies do when they're bored is that, well, they're not interested in getting anything more out of this event than they've already gotten out of it. So, you know, if they've learned something about it, we should now be able to test them on that learning, or maybe they haven't learned anything about it. They're just tired of looking at it, but either way we can't get them to watch it anymore. So we sort of move on at that point, once they're officially board, after we show them those events over and over again, and they're officially board what we did was simply provided them with a choice between the helpful and hindering character.


Kiley Hamlin (04:17):

So a research assistant who didn't know which character had done what that day, because importantly, we always vary the color of who did what and the side of where they are in order to make sure that, you know, color or side is not influencing infants' preferences. But so a research assistant who doesn't know which character is, which comes out and offers the two characters, two babies on a board and just says, who do you like, or who do you want to play with? And we just see which one, the babies touch first. And based on that, we infer that this baby preferred or liked or wanted to interact with or was more interested in any kind of explanation we'll do the character that they touched.


Amber Cazzell (05:09):

Yeah. Yeah. It's interesting. It sounds so complicated. Cause when I think about, you know, my own kids as babies, it's like so hard to figure out what they're thinking you're doing in any one circumstance that it's, it's impressive. I mean, it's great. It's impressive. That you're able to systematically pull these things off. Like how, how long does it usually take to finagle with methods to get something that works and babies that are you know, paying attention in the first place? Like even the first time you play the video, you know?


Kiley Hamlin (05:45):

Yeah. That's a great question. And it really depends on the study. So some studies, it takes a long time to figure out what is interesting enough that babies will sit through it, but too interesting that they're overwhelmed and you know, need to stop the study before you finish it, you know, showing them everything. So it's certainly a balance that, you know, piloting your methods on a few real life babies helps immensely sort of figure out what your average baby's going to be interested in and bored by and, and all that kind of stuff. But one thing that we found with the methods with the helping and hindering events is that babies were surprisingly into it. So they sort of watch these events very intently. Perhaps because in our original studies, the events were happening actually not on video, but acted out right in front of them.


Kiley Hamlin (06:47):

So in sort of live 3d stereo these characters were interacting and what we found is that babies at you know, six around six months just sort of couldn't get enough of it. They were really, really quite interested in the events and would watch lots of events happily because they just found them so engaging, which I think is a sort of interesting finding in itself that babies were so interested in watching these characters they'd never seen before that are not human or even animals interact and sort of really responding to them as though they were sort of wrapped audience members.


Amber Cazzell (07:27):

Yeah, no kidding. Okay. So let's, let's shift gears a little bit to specifically how this gets applied to morality. So in this paper and for people who are listening to the podcast I'll link to it in the episode description, but the paper that Kylie and I are largely gonna start working from today is infants. And Young's young children's preferences for prosocial over antisocial others in human development, highly published this with Julia Van de Vandervort in 2018. And anyway, I, I really appreciated the time that was taken in this article to kind of unravel how you identify a moral sense in infants since it's already. And you even acknowledged this in the paper, it's already difficult enough to do so in adults. And then you start to add in some of these complexities, interpretive complexities. And so you mentioned like four different elements. One was that the moral sense, trying to unravel what is a moral sense in infants involves social agents and different differential attention to social agents. You can see these reactions in unrelated, third parties, there's attention paid to the intention of the agents involved and that it's like contextually sensitive. So I'd love to kind of unpack these one at a time. And, and so the first one you mentioned was that the moral sense has to involve evaluations in situations where there's a social agent. Could you tell me a bit about some of the studies that have been done around that and what that means?


Kiley Hamlin (09:14):

Yeah, so of course are the sense that, you know, helping others is better than harming them requires that you're doing something to others who are worthy of being helped and harmed. So for example, in our Hill study that I mentioned a little while ago, we had control conditions where characters with eyes, the same characters, who'd been the helper and the hinderer in the original study push a ball up and down a Hill. So rather than pushing a character who was an agent who had previously shown the goal of getting to the top of the Hill, it was just an inert ball and it was pushed up versus pushed down. And what we found is that babies didn't prefer the character who pushed the ball upward versus the character who pushed the ball downward, suggesting that their preference in the other condition was, you know, specific to a social interaction.


Kiley Hamlin (10:10):

So if similar actions are taken on inanimate objects, babies don't seem to show a preference for characters who do one thing versus another. We've done that same kind of control condition in various other puppet shows that we shown to babies with positive and negative social action. So in one study we have a characters playing with a ball and he systematically drops his ball. And every time it falls in front of one puppet that puppet is nice and sort of rolls his ball back to him. And every time the ball drops in front of another puppet, that puppet is mean and steals the ball away. So in that study rather than pushing up versus pushing down, being the sort of actions meeting controlling for we controlled for the idea of rolling a ball toward the center of the stage versus running off the stage with a ball.


Kiley Hamlin (11:12):

And we had characters who interacted with rather than a puppet who was, you know, playing with a ball, a stick that had a ball attached to the end. And the ball was sort of bounce up and down and it would drop in front of one character or another one of whom would roll the ball back. One of whom would steal the ball away. And again, in those studies we found babies did not systematically prefer the character who rolled the ball back. So across studies we've found essentially that babies care about these kinds of actions only when they're directed toward an agent that has an unfulfilled goal. So only when they're real of helping in harming essentially.


Amber Cazzell (11:55):

Interesting. And at what age, like at what age do you start to see that distinction happening?


Kiley Hamlin (12:04):

So we've actually found that distinction at every age at which we've looked at these capacities. So the two studies that I just described, we've found that three month old babies will prefer a helpful versus a unhelpful character in the social conditions when those actions are directed toward an agent, but that baby's at the same age. So in this case three months will not prefer a character who does the same physical action, but toward a non agent. So in the, in the non social conditions, so we haven't ever found an age group where babies will prefer a helper over a hinderer, but seemingly because of the sort of low level features of the displays because every time we've asked them these control questions about whether it needs to be directed towards a social beam, we've always found that the answer is yes,


Amber Cazzell (12:58):

That's pretty mind blowing.


Kiley Hamlin (13:01):

Yeah. It's pretty amazing.


Amber Cazzell (13:03):

Oh, he is. Okay, interesting. So, I mean, the second thing that you mentioned as kind of helping tease apart, whether or not this is related to moral sense was that infants care about these things happening in, in third parties. And that seems to largely be baked into all of the studies that you do. Is that kind of fair to say?


Kiley Hamlin (13:30):

Yeah, absolutely. So you could imagine showing that an infant prefers others who help versus harm themselves. And that would necessarily be particularly surprising. So, you know, I might like those who give balls to me, I might like those who helped me get up a Hill if I can't get up by myself for selfish reasons that are about my own benefit. But so we've actually always done our studies in the third party context with the idea that if babies care about these things, they should like adults care about them in situations in which they do not stand, you immediately benefit or suffer from the interactions. So they're sort of never seeing these characters before they're observing them from afar. Nevertheless, they seem to generate expert or sorry, generate evaluations of the other characters, engaging in the behaviors. Yeah.


Amber Cazzell (14:29):

Yeah. Okay. Interesting. And you mentioned at one point some studies that were aimed at trying to tease apart, trying to tease apart whether something is just sort of a Egoistic learning that might result what looks like moral evaluations. Was that your work or was that somebody else's it had to do with like offering puppets, offering crackers? I think it was,


Kiley Hamlin (15:00):

Yeah. So this wasn't, this wasn't my work. This was work by Arbor to see me and Karen Wynn. So Arbor came after me in the wind lab at Yale and he's actually just starting an assistant professorship at Emory university. But so what he did is he showed babies a different puppet show than what I've described to you before. But it's our sort of third, most common show where there's a character and there's a box with a toy inside of it. And the character is trying, but failing to open a box to get the toy out. So he sort of tries and struggles with the lid of the box a bunch of times. And then on alternating events, he is helped. Somebody comes and jumps on the lid of the box and opens it with him for the protagonist. And he's also hindered another character comes and jumps on the box and slams it shut preventing the character from getting his toy.


Kiley Hamlin (16:00):

So Arbor showed babies, this puppet show where there's a helper and a hinderer and then he had the characters offer the babies cookies or Graham crackers. And what he found is that when characters offered the same number of graham crackers, that babies referred to help her like usual. And they prefer to help her, even when the helper offered to Graham crackers, whereas, sorry, excuse me. Whereas he, they prefer the helper even when the helper offered only one Graham Cracker, whereas the hinder offered two. So essentially it seemed like babies were willing to give up a single Cracker in order to avoid interacting with the hinderer.


Amber Cazzell (16:46):

Right. That's also pretty crazy. I'm just consistently blown away by like how young some of these tendencies are, are emerging. Do you remember what the age group was for that sort of thing?


Kiley Hamlin (17:04):

I'm fairly sure that that was 12 months old as opposed to the younger ones, because basically babies, you know, don't eat Graham crackers until later in their first year. So you're sort of a bit limited on when you can start introducing foods and, and other benefits to babies. But essentially found that 12 month olds are willing to give up a Cracker to not interact with a hinderer interestingly, before you're too impressed by the babies. They also found that babies when they were choosing between a hinderer who offered eight crackers and a helper who only offered one, then babies were sort of not systematic in their preferences. So, you know, so you mean when suggests that there might be a point at which you can buy infants preference but at least all all else equal, they prefer a helper. And even when the hinderer offers some benefit to the baby more than the helper, they will still prefer a helper.


Amber Cazzell (18:14):

Yeah. That's funny about buying off. I mean, it seems like adults do that too, so


Kiley Hamlin (18:21):

Indeed. Yeah. Yeah. So certainly there is a point at which anyone can be, could be bribed.


Amber Cazzell (18:31):

Yeah. Okay. So let's, I'm also curious about sort of this, this aspect of infants sensitivity to the intention of sort of the agents involved and how and how that plays into their preferences.


Kiley Hamlin (18:54):

Absolutely. Yeah. So this is probably the question that we've been most interested in. Once we establish that baby's like helpers we wanted to understand what about the helpful actions they were liking. So there are many ways to think about action, but one, one clear way to divide up different components of action is into the thing that ends up happening the outcome and the intention that drove the action. And then all of the studies that I've told you about so far, the helper intends to help and successfully helped. So it's a good outcome and the hanger intends to harm and successfully hinders. And so it's a bad outcome for the protagonist, not for the baby as I've said in the past, but for the protagonist. So in all the previous studies that I've described the intention to help and the outcome of a protagonist being helped are confounded.


Kiley Hamlin (19:57):

So the helper intends to help and causes the protagonist to get his goal and the hinderer intends to harm and prevents the protagonist from getting his goal. So in the studies that we've done since, you know, gosh, over the last 10 years plus we have started to look at situations in which intention and outcome are de confounded. So for example, when someone tries to help, but fails versus someone tries to hinder but fails in this case, the positive outcome for the protagonist actually happens during hindering events. So someone tries to hinder, but isn't able to retag, this does get his goal. So it's a bad intention combined with a positive and in the field helper situation, a helper positively intends to help, but fails to do so. So the outcome is bad. So in studies where we pit intention and outcome, in those kinds of ways, we found that in fact babies from eight months of age, although potentially not before that prefer characters who try to help.


Kiley Hamlin (21:11):

So per seem to evaluate others based on the intentions to be, to be helpful towards others, rather than the outcomes of actually being helpful towards others. We looked at the distinction between intention and outcome in several other ways, we've looked at accidents. So when someone causes a good or bad outcome, but without having intended to do so and we found that at 10 months, babies will prefer a character who intended to help over one who accidentally helped. And they will also prefer a character who accidentally hindered over one who intended to hinder as though again, they think that the intention is the important thing and having positive intentions is good and having negative intentions is bad.


Amber Cazzell (22:00):

Yeah. Yeah. That's again, just surprising to me that they were even able to pick up on the concept of intentions at that age. That's really cool.


Kiley Hamlin (22:12):

Yeah. So other studies in the literature, just about what babies understand about people's goals and intentions more generally also fine that around eight ish months, eight to 10 months is where babies start to understand situations in which somebody intends something, but doesn't achieve it. Or somebody accidentally does something that they didn't intend. So in fact, the findings suggested that at the same time, that same time in development when babies are starting to understand situations in general, when intention and outcome don't match up, they also use that understanding to inform their preferences for helpers and hinders.


Amber Cazzell (22:52):

Yeah. Wow. Wow. okay. So then the last, the last element in this paper that you discussed was also this concept of contextual sensitivity, which it sounds like intentions is a little bit is kind of related to you as well.


Kiley Hamlin (23:14):

It's definitely related. Yeah.


Amber Cazzell (23:16):

Yeah. So like what other sorts of things, what other sorts of contexts do babies seem to be paying attention to with respect to like seeming moral evaluations?


Kiley Hamlin (23:32):

So in these studies, I'm generally referring to the work that we've done asking what babies think of those who help versus harm those who've already helped or harm someone else. So for example, in our daily life, we generally think helping is good and we all, so certainly think that those who've helped others deserve to be helped themselves. However, when we are encountering someone who's previously harmed others, we are less sure about what should happen to them. And indeed, sometimes we think that they should be treated badly or punished for their misdeeds. So I'm in a very simplified version of reward and punishment. We showed babies two kinds of puppet shows in the same study. So babies would first see a character who has an unfulfilled goal say to open a box, one character, to help her would help him and another character to hinder would prevent him from getting the goal.


Kiley Hamlin (24:36):

And then in the second kind of puppet show that babies would see, they would see either the helper from phase one or the hinderer from phase one, and this character would have a different unfulfilled goal. So he would lose his ball essentially. So really we just combined two of the puppet shows that I've described in more detail already. And essentially we asked whether, when they're looking at a character who was previously nice, do they like someone who gives a nice guy as ball back versus takes a nice guys ball away. And indeed we find that babies do show that preference. So they prefer those who are nice to nice guys, although that's not that surprising because they prefer those who are nice to everyone, everyone in the studies we've shown them before. So the key condition was what do babies think when someone is nice versus mean to someone who was already hindered somebody else?


Kiley Hamlin (25:35):

So toward the bad guy essentially. And what we found was actually quite surprising to us we found that babies didn't seem confused by this situation. It didn't seem like there was some kind of competition between them generally thinking taking is bad. But not sure that the, the previously mean character should get rewarded or how does all give back to him? Instead, we found that babies were very likely to prefer the character who took the ball from the previously harmful character. So it's like they like someone who was mean to someone who was mean before. Wow. So when we talk about context in this case, it's sort of like, do babies take into account why someone acted the way that they did. And one reason that somebody might act sort of traditionally anti-socially is because they're doing it towards someone who deserves it. Who's done something bad or needs to be punished or maybe needs protection or something like that. And indeed, we found that babies as early as four and a half months of age, will evaluate actions and contexts in this way. And like someone who's nice if somebody's nice, but like someone who's mean to somebody mean, yeah.


Amber Cazzell (26:52):

Yeah. it's really interesting work. And when I was reading through the paper towards the end, you also kind of mentioned just broadly speaking, started to situate some of these sprouts or intuitions as from, from sort of this evolutionary functional perspective. And it got me thinking a bit about Oliver, Scott Curry's theory of morality as cooperation. I'm not sure if you're familiar with his work.


Kiley Hamlin (27:30):

Okay. Yeah, yeah.


Amber Cazzell (27:32):

Thinking about that. And I'm curious now, if you've considered researching some of those other lesser studied at least to my knowledge, plus they're studied sorts of cooperations, like do babies distinguish between like different types of treatment of familial ties versus not like if a puppet had a baby, is the puppet supposed to treat the baby differently than it's supposed to treat a stranger and that sort of a thing.


Kiley Hamlin (28:06):

Yeah. So that's a great question. And one that we have not asked in particular but there's hints of these questions being answered in the rest of the field. So I can tell you about two pieces of evidence that I think are relevant to this question. One is that babies seem to be able to reason about familial ties. So for example, they can detect that a caregiver who preferentially cares for one baby and a caregiver, a different caregiver who also preferentially cares for that one baby. They should be sort of affiliated with each other. In addition, if two babies are cared for, by the same caregiver, babies think that they should be affiliated with each other. So they seem to have some basic understanding of how caregiving structure, social relationships and that is all work that is by Annie Spokes. And she has done just quite a lot of work with her advisor list Spelke on baby's understanding of caregiving. Interesting. Yeah,


Amber Cazzell (29:25):

But it sort of makes it sort of makes some conceptual sense, right? Like if we have these innate moral sprouts kind of, as you're referring, kind of the reference to mention is concept of sprouts, if have these sprouts and we sheet, we should expect to see them tracking with these functional accounts of morality. Are you aware of any, anything else or have you done anything else? With respect to some of those tendencies, I'm trying to think of what else there was. I know there were like a hawkish and dovish conflict resolution things. I don't know how that would, how that would work.


Kiley Hamlin (30:06):

Yeah. So, so there's definitely work. Mainly by Renee buyers Jean and her colleagues that has looked at whether babies think that group members are sort of required to help each other or not. So one thing that we generally find is that babies don't seem to find at baseline helping events any more interesting or boring than harming events. So one hypothesis you might have is maybe, maybe you see helping all the time in their daily lives. And so they come into the lab and they see harming and they're like, Oh my gosh, that's very surprising. And I don't like it. But in fact, we seem to find that babies have the, I don't like it response to harming, but they don't seem to find it surprising. Or at least we found that they will overall look equally long at random helping versus random hindering or harming events.


Kiley Hamlin (31:08):

However, it does seem like once you throw group level information into the situation that babies may then develop expectations for how others will treat each other. So babies, it turns out we'll be surprised if two ingroup members harm each other and, or fail to help each other. Whereas they won't be surprised if two individuals who are not a member of the same group harm each other, or fail to help each other. So it seems like baby's expectations for how social interactions are supposed to go are specific to, you know, who is a group member with whom. So this might also turn out to be the case in the case of, you know, family groups. So kin things like that, but I am not aware of studies that have looked at that in particular.


Amber Cazzell (32:13):

That's really, that's really neat. It's satisfying to see research and theory coalescing, so well, so what I'm curious now, like taking all this together, as you've dedicated your career to this, what are some of the takeaways for you about what researching infants can tell us about morality broadly? The nature of morality broadly?


Kiley Hamlin (32:49):

Yeah, that's a really, you know, that is the question. So thank you for asking, but you know, I'm not sure I can do it particularly do it justice. I guess for my perspective, I think that in order to understand any sort of system of, you know, cognition and action in humans, we need to understand where it came from. And presumably morality is based on many things. Certainly one of them being teaching from parents and teachers, another one being sort of our own personal experiences with the kinds of interactions that go well and the kinds of interactions that go poorly, we might also just observe others, having positive versus negative interactions in the world and learn about good and bad things from those. So the work with babies is not designed to say that, you know, all of morality is present in the first few months of life, far from it.


Kiley Hamlin (34:02):

But it's just asking questions about whether babies come to those learning experiences, which are critical with any sort of preconceptions or, or sort of tendencies toward carving up the world in a particular way or evaluating the world in a particular way. And so I think that the work to date not just my work, but work many people in this field, including a whole large body of work on baby's understanding of fairness and how resources should be distributed in the world that basically babies may come to those experiences with some preconceptions about how things should go or or how things tend to go.


Amber Cazzell (34:57):

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, does it give you any sense of does it give you any intuitive sense of the strengths and weaknesses of some of the broader series of morality in psychology? So I'm thinking like social domains theory or moral foundations theory or even like not curious theory,


Kiley Hamlin (35:31):

Sorry, what was the last one?


Amber Cazzell (35:32):

Uh even like the Oliver Scott Curry's theory that we were discussing earlier morality.


Kiley Hamlin (35:39):

Right, right. I think Oliver Scott Curry's theory shares a lot of commonalities with moral foundations theory sort of saying that there's a potentially universal tendency to engage in particular kinds of moral thinking or to see particular actions as good or bad. And I would say that theoretically speaking our work with babies is most commensurate with those kinds of theories that essentially there is some kind of first draft of morality in the human mind that has led to commonalities across vast vastly diverse cultures in what people think are, you know, good and bad ways to act. So in contrast, other kinds of theories of moral development have looked more at sort of patterns of reasoning about morality versus other social domains.


Kiley Hamlin (36:50):

As in social domain theory and or patterns of reasoning about different moral domains based on what kinds of experiences children have had, or sort of what things they've been taught, et cetera. And sort of those focus more on the kind of learning that is absolutely happening in the first few years of your life based on particular experiences that children have based on cognitive developments and other domains that allow for increasingly sophisticated thought within the moral domain. And I would say that our work with babies suggesting that they're doing something relatively more sophisticated than we ever would have thought previously with respect to the moral domain is more consistent with the sort of sort of more functional evolutionary theories of where morality comes from. Yeah.


Amber Cazzell (37:47):

That sparks a few more questions for me. So do you, babies seem to distinguish between like social domains theory? A lot of that research seems to focus on just being able to delineate moral issues or like harm issues from social conventions. Do babies show any signs of distinguishing between social convention and moral issues?


Kiley Hamlin (38:14):

So there has not been nearly as much work on the sort of conventional versus moral in babies. Although, you know, the definition of morality within social domain theory is that it only involves issues of harm and issues of fairness. So any the studies that I've been talking to you about with, for example, how different group members should interact would be about the conventional domain within that theory. So but there has been far less things sort of saying here's a conventional violation, here's a moral violation. And how do babies think about this? There's definitely stuff with older toddlers. So two and three year olds and preschoolers, right. Will, for example, if they see someone acting inappropriately they might be more likely to call it out if it's a group member of theirs acting inappropriately when it's something that is traditionally considered conventional versus traditionally considered moral. So certainly there's work by Marco Schmidt and colleagues suggesting that at least maybe older twos, threes, preschoolers will selectively protest against moral harms rather than conventional ones. So I'm suggesting that indeed potentially the distinction between moral and conventional is, is early developing. Although I think potentially not quite as early developing as, as you know, three to six months.


Amber Cazzell (40:03):

Yeah. I'm, I'm curious too about like the sort of those four indicators of a moral sense that we were talking about, the social agents, third-parties intentions and contexts. Do you think that those are adequately able to distinguish between convention and morality? Like, could you run a similar experiment to the ones that you have about a norm violation and have, I mean, I guess, I guess picking up on norms takes time in the first place, right. For an infant. So I'm not sure.


Kiley Hamlin (40:42):

Right. We would first have to establish a norm to then violate it, but that is certainly something that could, that could potentially be done. And then we might want to ask about whether those four characteristics that I talked about also influence baby's judgements in that particular violation. Which would be a really great way to get at the question. Yeah. we haven't done anything like that to date. But it sounds like a great idea. So thank you.


Amber Cazzell (41:18):

And then, and then on the moral foundation side you you've done a lot with, or at least, yeah, you've done a lot. You've done a lot with harm kind of stuff. And, or at pro sociality, an anti sociality, which seems like harm to me. And then I believe fairness as well. And at least I know there's a lot on fairness.


Kiley Hamlin (41:43):

Yeah. So it's mostly not been us, but folks like Jessica Somerville and Lucas durian have done quite a lot of work on fairness, suggesting that babies have a sophisticated understanding of a fair versus unfair Renee bar John's group as well. Has studied a lot about maybe understanding and evaluation of fairness.


Amber Cazzell (42:05):

Yeah. And then you mentioned that there's a little bit that's been done on like the beginnings of in group out group type of stuff. Are there, what about the other two foundations? Like hierarchy and like purity?


Kiley Hamlin (42:22):

Yeah. So there is there are a few papers on hierarchy. So these papers are by eye Francesco Marconi with a and Renee writer, John. And, and they've looked at whether babies think that those who've sort of gathered their power by a consensus are going to treat individuals in a particular way versus those who gather their power via sort of harming others. So it's looked at things like sort of dominance versus prestige based hierarchy systems. And so as far as I know, there's one, one paper looking at babies, understanding of those things, finding positive results, I believe in toddlers. There's also been work suggested that babies will evaluate characters who are either dominant or submissive depending on the age. So actually it looks like younger babies seem to prefer submissive individuals. Whereas by the time you hit toddlerhood you prefer or dominant individuals and by semester versus dominant, I mean two characters try to get across the stage. And one of them gets out of the way for the other one so he can get through. And so again, babies seem to prefer the character who gets out of the way for the other character to get through and toddler seem to refer the character who wins and gets through so interesting that there's a developmental change there. But it does seem to be robust and that's worked by Ashley Thomas and her colleagues.


Amber Cazzell (44:12):

Interesting. Very cool. And so for you personally, what are some of your next steps for your own research? What are you starting to explore now?


Kiley Hamlin (44:25):

Yeah, so we're increasingly interested in understanding the better the mechanisms of what's going on when babies are showing these preferences that we believe that they show. So we're doing this in two ways. We're looking at a more mechanistic level. We're looking at things like where exactly do babies look when they're watching these helpful and harmful events and how do babies looking, behaviors predict their preferences. And in one study, for example, we found that babies who attend selectively to the characters goal are most likely to prefer the character who helps with the goal. So this is potentially not that surprising, but it turns out that you need to be able to process what the character intends to do before you can like someone who helps them do it. We have also at this sort of more mechanistic level in trying to explore baby's emotions and whether emotion or emotion experience during these events has anything to do with babies preferences.


Kiley Hamlin (45:39):

So, so far we've been able to show using a couple of different methods that indeed babies look happier after they see helping versus after they see hindering. We have yet to be able to tie these results to individual babies preferences, or sort of establish a causal connection between emotional experiences and preference we're helpers, but we're, we're working on those kinds of questions right now. Again, just trying to explore like what mechanisms underlie these tendencies. The third thing that we're looking at is trying to understand what these tendencies and babies mean for the individual development of the child. So for example, our babies who prefer the helper actually showing evidence of a precursor to morality and one way of asking that question is to see, okay, well, how quote unquote moral does this child seem later in life?


Kiley Hamlin (46:44):

For example, a child who was more versus less likely to prefer helpers as an infant we're currently in the, in the midst of a very large longitudinal study asking this question. But that study is very much not finished yet. And also COVID might make it has made it much harder to complete. And, and so we're working on it, but we do have one paper out that was an opportunity sample where we simply just like happened to find a bunch of babies who'd done multiple infant studies during their very early years. And we were able to check their tendency to prefer helpers or respond in, in the hypothesized direction during infancy related to features of their social and moral development. And essentially what we found is that in particular, there were links between babies tendency to prefer helpers and their parents tendency to report that they had lower callous unemotional traits in preschool.


Kiley Hamlin (47:59):

So we, you know, I want to say again that this was an opportunity to sample. It was a relatively small sample. And so we're currently trying to do this study, right. And, and see whether it, those kinds of effects hold up. But it was suggestive evidence that we are, we are studying something about moral development exactly what feature of moral development it is that we're studying and how it's going to relate to, you know, how kids turn out across the very broad domain of moral development remains to be seen. But that was an exciting sort of suggestive evidence that we may be studying early moral development here.


Amber Cazzell (48:42):

That's so cool. Well, Kylie, thank you so much for your time. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to learn about the ins and outs of all of this baby research and what has and hasn't been studied, thank you.


Kiley Hamlin (48:55):

Thank you for having me, this was really fun.