Babies try again when they see adults persist at a task

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Perseverance can get you far in life and it seems this is a skill parents can pass on to their youngsters, through their own behaviour.

Experts found that babies who see adults push through failure rather than quitting are more likely to persist when faced with their own difficulties.

The results suggest that young children can pick up on subtle cues from the way grown ups act, in ways scientists may have previously been unaware of.

Perseverance seems to be a skill parents can pass on to their youngsters, through their own behaviour. Experts found that babies who see adults push through failure rather than quitting are more likely to persist when faced with their own difficulties

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) measured how long 15 month-old children persisted at a task after seeing adults exert variable amounts of effort. 

The results indicate that infants learn perseverance from adult role models.

They also suggest babies can absorb abstract concepts about how to behave by observing this in others.

Writing in the study, its authors said: ‘Many cultures emphasise the value of effort and perseverance. 

‘This emphasis is substantiated by scientific research. 

‘Individual differences in conscientiousness, self-control, and “grit” correlate with academic outcomes independent of IQ.

‘Persistence, above and beyond IQ, is associated with long-term academic outcomes.

‘The results suggest that adult models causally affect infants’ persistence and that infants can generalise the value of persistence to novel tasks.’

Some babies watched an adult succeed at one of two chores  after struggling for thirty seconds. 

Chores were made up of opening a container (left) or removing a toy from a key ring (right).  Some babies watched an adult succeed after struggling, others saw them exert no effort while a control group saw no demontstation

The babies were subsequently tasked with a different problem, activating a toy music box by pressing a non-functional button. Infants who had seen adults struggle and succeed attempted the frustrating endeavour more times than those who hadn't

These chores were made up of opening a container or removing a toy from a key ring.

A second group of infants saw adults complete the trial with no effort within 10 seconds.

And a third control group didn’t observe any demonstration by the adults. 

The babies were subsequently tasked with a different problem, activating a toy music box by pressing a non-functional button.

Infants who had seen adults struggle and succeed attempted the frustrating endeavour more times than those who observed grown-ups exert no effort or were part of the control group.

The scientists saw similar results in a follow-up experiment where the demonstrating adults did not address the babies directly or make eye-contact, though the effects were weaker.   

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Science. 

Source : http://gearsofbiz.com/babies-try-again-when-they-see-adults-persist-at-a-task/80935

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