How toddlers spot close social ties


An 11-month-old baby is playing with a toothy toy in Washington, DC on January 20, 2022.

The idea of ​​sharing an ice cream cone with a stranger can cause disgust, but it often doesn’t apply to people near us, such as romantic partners and children.

Journal new research Chemistry On Thursday, children have been aware of this dynamic from an early age, exchanging saliva through activities such as kissing, sharing food, and wiping dribbles to determine if the two have a special bond. It shows that you are looking at it as a clue.

“Many studies have shown that infants are very adaptable to that social aspect of their world,” Ashley Thomas, a researcher at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told AFP. ..

“But one thing we didn’t know before this study was whether they really paid attention to different types of relationships.”

In particular, Thomas and his colleagues wanted to know if children could distinguish a special relationship called “thick,” the term first coined by the philosopher Avishai Margarit.

The team devised a series of experiments to test whether a child makes the same distinction as an adult.

First, they presented a group of over 100 children aged 5 to 7 with cartoons featuring characters that interact with each other.

Children successfully predict that “sharing tools and licking the same food will occur within the nuclear family, and sharing toys and divisible food will occur equally within friendship and family.” did.

Puppet play

Next, researchers wanted to test the theory for infants who, like older children, couldn’t express their thoughts.

Their experiments were inspired by the classical study of vervet monkeys. The Vervet Monkey heard the voice of a familiar boy in distress, turned to the boy’s mother, and expected her to react.

To reproduce the idea for young humans, they Video clip Two female research assistants in Thomas’ lab play a cute blue doll.

The first woman ate a bite of an orange slice, then fed the doll, and then another bite of the same slice.

Next, the second woman is shown passing the ball back and forth with the doll.

“Both are really friendly exchanges and collaborative, but only one of them is possible that we have an intimate relationship as adults. relationship“Thomas said.

We then showed dozens of subjects a clip of the same doll crying, with both women on either side of it, measuring who the baby first saw and how long he saw it.

The children speculated that the pair with whom they shared saliva were closer.

Both actresses of different ethnicities played both roles against different groups of economically and racially diverse toddlers.

The kids ran another test that showed the subject the same opening video to make sure that the person sharing the food wasn’t just thinking it was good in nature, but the suffering doll It was a new character.

When this happened, neither the baby nor the toddler saw the food co-owner first or more.

Finally, one actress put her finger in her mouth and rotated it, then put it in the doll’s mouth, and another actress ran a test that performed the same rotating motion on her and the doll’s forehead.

Once again, the kids turned more to the actress sharing saliva puppet I isolated this as a marker and shouted.


How the findings are based on a scientific understanding Children To grasp the dynamics of society, Thomas said.

“For example, we know that babies pay attention to someone who is kind to someone else,” she said.

“The main point of this study is that babies are not only paying attention to the characteristics of people, but also to who is connected and how.”

Understanding how we think about relationships may one day bring practical benefits, for example, by helping people who find it difficult to build such bonds. ..

“It was a moral failure that we didn’t help people with autism connect with others,” said Thomas.

“They really want those connections and may lack some of the skills to create them. This study will help others eventually navigate relationships. I think it will be useful. ”

Babies can find out who has a close relationship based on one clue: saliva.

For more information:
Ashley J. Thomas, an early concept of intimacy: young humans use saliva sharing to infer close relationships, Chemistry (2022). DOI: 10.1126 / science.abh1054..

© 2022 AFP

Quote: Dribble Test: How Toddlers Find Close Social Connections (January 22, 2022) from https: // 2022 I got January 22nd

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