SureBaby Blog

Babies Understanding Starts Earlier Than We Think, Study Shows

Posted by Alissa Robson

Ever have that eerie feeling that your baby is reading your thoughts? Well, it may actually be true! (Time to banish those sleepless-night stress thoughts…)

New research has shown that babies as young as 18 months can understand what people are thinking based on interpreting situations and social cues. It was previously thought that this ability didn’t emerge till children were much older.

The theory was tested by using something called a “false-belief” test, where a person enters the room where the child is and hides an object as the child watches. Then, after the first person has left, a second person comes into the room, retrieves the object and pockets it.

In past studies on older children, aged 4 to 7, the next phase in the test would be for the first person to return to the room. The child would then be asked, “Where do you think the first person will look for the scissors?”

Most children were easily able to answer that the person should look in the original hiding spot, proving they have something called “theory of mind” – or the ability to understand the perspective of another person.

The test was modified for the younger age group in the following way: The first person placed the scissors in a box and then left the room. The second person enters the room, pockets the scissors, then adopts a thinking stance and poses the general question while looking at the ceiling, “I wonder where they’ll look for the scissors.”

In recorded results, the young children consistently looked toward the box, showing that they were able to understand where the first person would likely look for the scissors, even after seeing the object being moved elsewhere.

Looks like we may have been underestimating our little ones! While you may not have a science lab or testing equipment, this test could easily be done at home. If you try it, be sure to let us know the results!

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