What principles guide human moral cognition? Although fairness and harm avoidance are widely thought to be likely universal moral principles, there is considerable disagreement concerning ingroup love. Is ingroup love a part of humans’ evolved adaptation for intuitive moral reasoning? If yes, abstract expectations about ingroup love might emerge early in development. To explore this possibility, we will examine whether infants possess expectations relevant to ingroup love and its two corollaries, ingroup support and ingroup loyalty. Infants will watch third-party interactions involving unfamiliar individuals from novel social groups. We will seek to determine (1) what expectations infants possess about interactions between individuals from the same social group and (2) whether infants hold different expectations for interactions between individuals from different social groups or between individuals whose group memberships are unspecified. In all, 9 experiments will be conducted with 4- to 30-month-olds; 6 experiments will focus on various facets of ingroup support (acting prosocially, limiting negativity, and maintaining positivity), and 3 experiments will focus on various facets of ingroup loyalty (aligning with, favoring, and defending one’s ingroup). Infants’ expectations will be assessed using the standard violation-of-expectation method and a new method we have been developing, the infant-triggered-video method. We expect at least 9 journal articles to result from the experiments, as well as yearly conference presentations. This project will be the first to explore whether infants possess an abstract sense of ingroup love. Evidence that they do will be extremely significant: it will shed new light on the basic structure and etiology of human moral cognition, including the concepts of love and altruism; it will help explain the long-term consequences of early negative ingroup experiences; and it will provide new insights into the problem of intergroup bias.
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