From early childhood, humans strive to please others, a recent research discovered. Children aged 24 months make an effort to please and impress their parents and even strangers. Moreover, researchers demonstrated that prohibiting kids to do a certain thing would cause them to do this activity more when they were not being watched.
Kids care what others think since the age of 2
It turned out that kids like to please others at a very young age. They are highly sensitive to what other people think. 24-month-old children change their behavior in order to appease adults that are looking at them.
Researchers from Emory University in the USA conducted a study on the image and proved that even toddlers care about making a good impression, Science Daily reports.
Psychologists used to believe such behaviors only start at preschool age of 5-7 years, but apparently such need is natural to humans from the age when they cannot even speak.
144 children aged 1 to 2 were involved in the research.
First, toddlers were showed how to use a toy robot. When the researcher turned away, the kid was calmly playing with the robot. But if he was watching the toddler, the latter was deliberately pushing as many buttons as possible to show he is interested in the game.
Next, the kid was given 2 remote controls. The researcher made a happy face when the child was using the first remote control and unhappy face when using the other. Then the researcher was either watching the child or turning away, to see how the reactions of the young human would change.
The toddlers would use the first remote while being watched and avoided using the remote that the researcher “didn’t like”. But if the researcher turned away, the kid would play mostly with the remote that he wasn’t allowed to.
To another group of kids the researcher showed that he equally fancied both of the remotes. And the kid used both of them regardless of the supervisor attention.
The research showed that children tried to impress the psychologist by playing with the remote control he liked — but only if they knew they were being watched. When the supervisor turned away, they were more interested in exploring the “forbidden” toy.
The author of the study Sara Valencia Botto said that toddlers not only knew they were assessed but wanted to get a positive evaluation by the supervisor.
Why even little children strive to be liked
People are concerned about what others think of them, and this is greatly characteristic of humans, according to Philippe Roshat, one of the authors of the experiment.
Even 2-year-old kids are afraid to be condemned – let alone adults – so they try their best at impressing other humans they communicate with.
The scientists say it’s completely normal and even necessary to care about the way we are perceived and evaluated by others. But many people are too dependent on other people’s opinion of them. It’s an essential tool of social cooperation and now we know it forms very early in human life.
However, even very young kids grow more interested in things that grownups forbid them to do. They wish to please adults when being monitored but once they can do whatever they wish, the forbidden activity becomes the centre of attention.