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Study Finds That Surprised Babies Are More Curious and Eager to Learn

Everyone knows messing with babies is fun, but who knew it could be good for them

Image via YouTube screencapture

Your first-year initiation into this planet is a constant flood of external stimuli, wonders, and surprises that is overwhelming in the most beautiful way.


Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are having a ball defying babies’ expectations of reality in a study that aims to explore which stimuli babies choose to pay attention to, and for how long. The study found that when a baby is surprised by the outcome of an otherwise predictable event, they spend more time trying to figure out why it happened.

Watch the adorable study here:

In one test, one group of infants saw a ball roll down a ramp only to be stopped by a wall in its path. Another group saw the ball roll down the ramp and appear to pass miraculously right through the wall.

The ball test. Image via YouTube screencapture

When the researchers gave the babies new information about the wall-defying ball, the babies showed increased interest while the infants in the predictable ball group showed nearly no interest at all. Surprised babies even go so far as to experiment and test out their own feebly formed hypotheses.

While the babies in the video seem to be banging the ball on the table as babies are often wont to do from time to time, researchers believe that they are testing their suspicions as to whether or not the ball is in fact a solid object.

Likewise, in a specific experiment with a truck that seems to float in midair, surprised babies picked up and dropped the truck in order to assess the truck’s gravity-defying characteristics.

”Yup, it’s solid alright.” Image via YouTube screencapture

“For young learners, the world is an incredibly complex place filled with dynamic stimuli. How do learners know what to focus on and learn more about, and what to ignore? Our research suggests that infants use what they already know about the world to form predictions. When these predictions are shown to be wrong, infants use this as a special opportunity for learning,” said Lisa Feigenson, who studies psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University, as reported by Science Daily.

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