Golden Rule or valence matching? Methodological problems in Hamlin et al.

Department of Psychology, University of Otago, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 04/2012; 109(22):E1426; author reply E1427. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1204123109
Source: PubMed
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Available from: Damian Scarf, Aug 16, 2015
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    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 05/2012; 109(22):1427-E1427. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1204712109 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Are we born amoral or do we come into this world with a rudimentary moral compass? Hamlin and colleagues argue that at least one component of our moral system, the ability to evaluate other individuals as good or bad, is present from an early age. In their study, 6-and 10-month-old infants watched two social interactions -in one, infants observed the helper assist the climber achieve the goal of ascending a hill, while in the other, infants observed the hinderer prevent the climber from ascending the hill. When given a choice, the vast majority of infants picked the helper over the hinderer, suggesting that infants evaluated the helper as good and the hinderer as bad. Hamlin and colleagues concluded that the ability to evaluate individuals based on social interaction is innate. Here, we provide evidence that their findings reflect simple associations rather than social evaluations.
    PLoS ONE 08/2012; 7(8):e42698. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0042698 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The ability to distinguish friends from foes allows humans to engage in mutually beneficial cooperative acts while avoiding the costs associated with cooperating with the wrong individuals. One way to do so effectively is to observe how unknown individuals behave toward third parties, and to selectively cooperate with those who help others while avoiding those who harm others. Recent research suggests that a preference for prosocial over antisocial individuals emerges by the time that infants are 3 months of age, and by 8 months, but not before, infants evaluate others’ actions in context: they prefer those who harm, rather than help, individuals who have previously harmed others. Currently there are at least two reasons for younger infants’ failure to show context-dependent social evaluations. First, this failure may reflect fundamental change in infants’ social evaluation system over the first year of life, in which infants first prefer helpers in any situation and only later evaluate prosocial and antisocial actors in context. On the other hand, it is possible that this developmental change actually reflects domain-general limitations of younger infants, such as limited memory and processing capacities. To distinguish between these possibilities, 4.5-month-olds in the current studies were habituated, rather than familiarized as in previous work, to one individual helping and another harming a third party, greatly increasing infants’ exposure to the characters’ actions. Following habituation, 4.5-month-olds displayed context-dependent social preferences, selectively reaching for helpers of prosocial and hinderers of antisocial others. Such results suggest that younger infants’ failure to display global social evaluation in previous work reflected domain-general rather than domain-specific limitations.
    Frontiers in Psychology 06/2014; 5. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00614 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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