Buon M, Jacob P, Margules S, Brunet I, Dutat M, et al. (2014) Friend or Foe? Early Social Evaluation of Human Interactions. PLoS ONE 9(2): e88612. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088612
We report evidence that 29-month-old toddlers and 10-month-old preverbal infants discriminate between two agents: a pro-social agent, who performs a positive (comforting) action on a human patient and a negative (harmful) action on an inanimate object, and an anti-social agent, who does the converse. The evidence shows that they prefer the former to the latter even though the agents perform the same bodily movements. Given that humans can cause physical harm to their conspecifics, we discuss this finding in light of the likely adaptive value of the ability to detect harmful human agents.
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