By preschool, lots of toddlers will proudly don superhero attire and fervently expound on the need to stand up to bullies, defeat villains, and fight for good and justice. It may seem like their sponge-like minds have sopped up every dribble of virtue from their parents, peers, and cartoons. But a new study suggests that their noble credos may actually be hardwired into their noggins long before they can recite the Spiderman theme song, babble ‘mama,’ or even roll over.
Infants as young as six-months old grasp the complex interactions between a bully, a victim, and an intervening protector—and they root for the brave protector, researchers report this week in Nature Human Behaviour.
Their ingrained support for heroic acts preceded even their understanding of what a hero is, the researchers found. In follow-up experiments, it was clear that the six-month-olds lacked the cognitive wherewithal to grasp intentions—something 10-month old babies seemed to …