There has been an interesting discovery which shows that infants could be able to differentiate between leaders and bullies. This finding would be helpful in drawing more insights into the way in which babies can perceive the world around them. The study which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that infants aged 21 months old could be able to identify the difference between the fear-based power imposed by bullies and the respect-based power of leaders.
According to the lead author of the study and Professor at the University of Illinois, Renee Baillargeon, the results of the study facilitate clear evidence of the fact that infants approaching the second year in their lives could be able to recognize a leader and a bully separately. She stated that infants could understand that in the case of bullies they have to obey only when the latter is present and in the case of leaders the infants understand that they have to obey leaders even in their absence.
The study involved the development of a series of animations showing the interaction of cartoon characters with individuals that are portrayed with three different traits. One of the individuals is depicted as a leader and another one as a bully while the third portrayal is that of a likeable person without any evident power. The experiment involved observation of the eye-gazing behaviours of infants when they were watching the same animations.
Baillargeon stated that during the experiment the children watched a scenario in which an individual portrayed as a leader or a bully gave orders to three protagonists. In the scenario, the protagonists obeyed the orders initially, but when the character left the scene, there were different behaviours from the protagonists as some obeyed and others did not. It was observed that when the protagonists disobeyed the leader, the infants detected violation which was not the case for bullies.