The expectation of care from authority figures among infants
Tan, Hwee Koon
Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Previous studies shed light that infants are able to engage in complex sociomoral reasoning by the second year of life, and are guided by moral principles such as care and fairness. In addition, infants are also capable of differentiating between dominant and subordinate figures. However, it remains unclear if infants’ expectation of the care would change depending on the status of an individual (e.g. high or low status). Hence, the study addresses this gap by investigating how infants would reason the actions of an authority figure towards another subordinate, through an eye-tracking study using the violation-of-expectation paradigm. 22 to 25 months old infants watched events where an authority figure was either being harmful or helpful towards a subordinate. The results suggest that infants expected an authority figure to be helpful than harmful, as indicated by significantly longer fixation duration. This is further supported by the pupil diameter data, where there was a significant increase in pupil diameter when infants saw the authority figure perform a harmful action as compared to the helpful action.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University