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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Feeling out the role of feelings in infant socio-moral evaluations Steckler, Conor


Research into infants’ socio-moral evaluations has revealed that infants prefer prosocial to antisocial individuals, as demonstrated by their reaching behaviors (e.g., Hamlin, Wynn, & Bloom, 2007; Hamlin & Wynn, 2011). Although infants’ choice behaviors have been demonstrated using several distinct social scenarios, the mechanism by which infants come to prefer one type of character to another is unknown. One possibility is that infants experience distinct emotions while observing prosocial and antisocial actions, and these emotional experiences guide their social preferences. As a first step in exploring this possibility, the current research used video-recordings of infants watching puppet shows with morally relevant content (prosocial and antisocial actions) and tested whether infants display more positive emotion towards prosocial acts and more negative emotion towards antisocial acts. Across three different studies and age groups, and two different methods, results provide support for the claim that infants’ emotional displays differ when viewing prosocial versus antisocial acts.

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