London, Nov 22 (UNI) If you think one needs to be mature enough to distinguish between friends and foes , give it a second thought as a new research now reveals that the ability to evaluate people is innate.
Scientists have shown that the ability to distinguish friend from foe is present from the first few months of life, suggesting it is something we are born with.
They found that babies as young as six-months-old can gauge people's intention much before they learn to speak the first word.
''The presence of social evaluation so early in infancy suggests that assessing individuals by the nature of their interactions with others is central to processing the social world, both evolutionary and developmentally.This supports the view that our ability to evaluate people is a biological adaptation - universal and unlearned,'' researchers from the Yale University, US concluded.
They watched how two groups of babies reacted when faced with a game in which a brightly coloured wooden toy repeatedly tried and failed to scale a hill.
The babies, who were aged six and ten months old, repeatedly reached for helpful toy, suggesting they liked it more.
The helpful toy was preferred by all 12 of the six-month-olds studied and 14 of the 16 ten-month-olds.
Varying the experiment slightly showed that the babies also preferred the helpful toy to a 'neutral' one that neither helped or hindered the climber suggesting that babies considred helpful toys as their friends.
''The capacity for such evaluations can be see as a biological adaptation: cooperative behaviour such as group-hunting, food sharing and warfare can be beneficial to individual members of a group, but can only successfully evolve if individuals can distinguish free riders from cooperators or reciprocators, those willing to do their fair share,'' Ms Kiley Hamlin, one of the authors of the research said.
''The capacity to evaluate individuals by their social interactions may also serve as a foundation for developing a system of moral cognition, '' the Daily Mail quoted Ms Hamlin as saying.