According to a recent study from the journal Science, babies have the ability to understand another person’s point of view as early as seven months old.
Also known as the “theory of mind,” this ability is characterized by associating beliefs, objectives, desires, knowledge and more to oneself while also keeping in mind that other people also have the same ability and that these persons’ beliefs, desires, etc. are different.
Until recently, the theory of mind was thought to only be developed at age three to four.
Said Ansgar Endress, one of the study’s authors and a cognitive psychologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Younger children have difficulty keeping track of complicated scenarios.”
To test their hypothesis, Endress and his fellow researchers showed babies and adults animated videos wherein a ball rolls behind a wall and then stays there, rolls out of view or returns rolling back into view. A cartoon character was also in the video watching the ball, but not always there to see where the ball finally ended up in.
Adults were able to discern where the ball ended up, able to understand from the character’s perspective.
Despite the difficulty of taking into account how babies understood the video, the researchers observed that the babies would stare at the monitor for a longer period of time when the cartoon character would guess incorrectly where the ball was already at.
With this observations, the researchers concluded that the infants could understand what happened to the ball based on cartoon character’s perspective. What’s more, it was also found out that this is essentially an automatic and effortless ability for them.
SOURCES: • “Theory of mind” En.Wikipedia.org • Sindya N. Bhanoo. January 3, 2011. “Grasping Another’s Point of View at an Early Age” NYTimes.com • January 17, 2011. “Babies get the point of view of adults” MemeUFacture.com