Listen to part of a lecture in a Psychology class.
(female professor) Ok, we generally assume that babies can feel only very basic emotions like happiness or anger, that is, the babies just react to things that happen directly to them. However, some new research’s suggesting that babies may be able to feel concern for others, to have empathy for others.
Now, empathy is a complex emotion. It involves a baby relating to someone else’s emotions, not just reacting to things happening directly to them. Let’s talk about an experiment that may show that babies could be capable of feeling empathy.
Ok, for the first part of the experiment, well, um, we’ve always known that babies start to cry when they hear other babies crying, right? One baby in a room starts crying and all the rest join in. We’ve always assumed that the other babies cry because they were reacting to the noise of crying, that the noise itself was distressing. So, in the experiment researchers play tape recording, a tape of baby’s crying, to another baby. And sure enough, the baby started crying when he heard the sound of other baby’s crying. This was no surprise, of course. And the researchers assumed that the baby cried because of the noise.
But the next part of the experiment was surprising. The researchers played the baby a tape of his own crying. Now it was just as noisy, so the researchers expected him to cry. However, this time the baby did not cry. He wasn’t upset by the sound of his own crying. Why not? Well, maybe it wasn’t the noise that made him cry before when he heard other baby’s crying.
In fact, maybe noise has nothing to do with it. It could be that the baby felt empathy for the other babies. And that was why he got upset when he heard them crying. Researchers concluded that it is indeed possible that babies feel empathy, concern for others.
Using the points from the lecture explain why researchers think that babies may feel empathy.
The professor talks about an experiment testing babies' empathy. We all know that if one baby cries in a room, other babies in the same room will cry. Originally, we think it’s because of the noise of the crying, which means baby is directly influenced by the noise rather than feel concern for other babies. But in the experiment, the researchers played a tape recording of a baby’s cry to another baby, then of course the other baby cries. Then the researchers played a tape recording of the baby’s own crying which is equally noisy; however the baby didn’t cry. So baby cried not because of the noise. It could be that the baby felt empathy for the other baby. Then researchers concluded that it’s possible that babies feel empathy, concern, for others.