PROVO, Utah (CBS Las Vegas) – Researchers at Brigham Young University have discovered that babies as young as five months old are able to interpret one another’s moods.
According to Science Daily, the researchers also noticed that infants as young as six months of age were able to detect the emotions of familiar adults. Within another month, many babies were also able to discern how adults that were not known to them were feeling.
For the study, researchers seated the participating infants in front of two monitors – one showing a happy baby, and the other, a sad baby.
When the sound of a happy baby was then played, the infants in the study reportedly looked at the image of the happy baby. Similar results were noted when researchers played sounds made by a sad baby.
Those involved in the study felt that the emotional understanding observed in the young children was due at least in part to how they themselves communicate.
“Newborns can’t verbalize to their mom or dad that they are hungry or tired, so the first way they communicate is through affect or emotion,” researcher and psychology professor Ross Flom told the website. “Thus it is not surprising that in early development, infants learn to discriminate changes in affect.”
He added, “They are exposed to affect in a peer’s voice and face which is likely more familiar to them because it’s how they themselves convey or communicate positive and negative emotions.”
Science Daily learned that the study was published in the journal Infancy.