Babies are mind readers—sort of. A new study suggests that babies as young as 18 months old can figure out what people are thinking through inference, meaning that they're actually a lot smarter than we previously thought.
The study—which was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B—used a form of false-belief test on children around the globe (China, Fiji, and Ecuador). In the false-belief test, a standard test conducted on children to assess their level of understanding, one person enters a room, hides an object (like a ball), then leaves. A second person enters the room, takes the ball, and leaves. When the first person comes back, the researcher asks the child where that person will look for the ball. If kids answer that the person will look in the original hiding place, then they possess a theory of mind.
So for this study, instead of expecting babies to verbally answer them, researchers instead recorded the babies' reactions to the question, noting that they consistently looked toward the original hiding place, understanding that the first person would have no reason to believe that the object has been moved. Basically, this means that we've been treating our toddlers like they're idiots, and since they know what we're thinking, they can probably tell that they're being treated like idiots.
Image via ollyy/Shutterstock
Babies Start 'Mind Reading' Earlier Than Thought [Live Science]