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Studies Reveal Toddlers Are Smarter, Bigger Assholes Than We Thought

Illustration for article titled Studies Reveal Toddlers Are Smarter, Bigger Assholes Than We Thought

Toddlers not only can comprehend what is "right" from what is "wrong," but they're also able to understand that a set of rules can apply to one group of people and not another, according to new research at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. In one study, 2 and 3-year-old children were able to identify rule violations amongst puppets in a puppet show, specifically regarding behavior.

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Another study found that toddlers only enforce game rules within their own language group. The results of the research suggest that these children understand that the expectations of cultural norms are different amongst different groups. Additionally, the study found that toddlers don't need explicit instructions in order to understand that a specific action is a social norm. Instead, they can intuitively pick up on behavioral cues and adults' expectations of them.

So what does this all mean? Well, toddlers are apparently much more socially sophisticated than we'd previously believed. Not only do they know how to act, but they're able to apply that behavior to appropriate contexts and social groups. So when your kid is doing something shitty, like throwing food on the floor or refusing to keep his shoes on in public, it's not because he doesn't know any better — it's because he's a jerk.

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Image via Geir Olav Lyngfjell/Shutterstock

Toddlers understand what is 'right' and 'wrong' far more clearly than we thought [Daily Mail]

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DISCUSSION

Yep — and very early on you get the Shifty-Eyed Guilty Look and the Attempt to Redirect Blame, both of which suggest an understanding of wrongdoing. Once Little L got distracted while standing up to pee in the toilet and sprayed everything in the vicinity. Later, when asked about it, he swore up and down that no, it was not him who peed on the towel and Mommy's shower curtain. It was Mommy! Mommy did it! Mommy, who was there watching him at the time!

Toddlers: knowledge of right and wrong, willingness to lie, luckily combined with very poor criminal mastermind skills.