We’re all familiar with the old proverb “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” For adults, the benefit of working hard towards a goal usually comes in the form of actually achieving it. While this may seem like a pretty grown-up concept, we may begin learning this idea of hard work and pay-off from a very early age, simply by observing those around us doing it on a regular basis.
A new study coming out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University shows that babies as young as 10 months can “assess how much someone values a particular goal by observing how hard they are willing to work to achieve it.”
This is a skill that requires incorporating information regarding the cost of achieving said goal and the benefit acquired by the person seeking it. It’s an important step in demonstrating that babies exhibit early intuition about how people make decisions. There have been prior published reports outlining the behaviors of older children assessing a person’s motivations by observing the amount of effort exerted towards obtaining a goal. Researchers at MIT/Harvard wished to examine further exactly how and when we develop this ability.
Shari Liu, a graduate student at Harvard’s Lab For Developmental Studies and lead author of the paper, says, “Infants are far from experiencing the world as a ‘blooming, buzzing confusion,'” referencing psychologist William James’s description of a…