Cry like a baby.
Sleep like a baby.
Make moral judgments like a baby?
Psychologist Paul Bloom, of Yale University’s Infant Cognition Center, says surprising new research shows that babies have a “moral life.” Writing in The New York Times, Bloom says a growing body of evidence “suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life,” and that babies show “glimmers of moral thought, moral judgment, and moral feeling even in the first year of life. Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bone.”
The new research is a far cry from the first psychological assessments centuries ago, when a baby’s mental life was deemed “one great blooming, buzzing confusion.” The key for researchers was realizing that babies control the movement of their eyes, which are “a window to the baby’s soul,” as Bloom puts it.
“Babies probably have no conscious access to moral notions,” he says, “no idea why certain acts are good or bad. They respond on a gut level.” Much like adults, Bloom concludes. “We’re not otherwise that different from babies—our moral feelings are often instinctive.”