Scarlett has been participating in some infant cognition research in the past couple months. I began receiving pamphlets from the Yale University based group right after Scarlett was born, and finally gave in and called to say she could participate. They are such a nice group of people! They love Scarlett because although she is certainly strong- willed, she never gets fussy or cranky. So far, we’ve done two studies, including one last night which was to examine how 14 to 18 month olds react to foods they like (Goldfish crackers) and food they tend to dislike (broccoli), and if they can comprehend someone else liking or disliking those same foods.
Joe and I were told that plates of both of these foods were going to be placed in front of Scarlett until she picked out one item to eat. After they determined which she preferred, broccoli or Goldfish, we would then move into another room. She would be handed some toys, and then she would be asked to give them back. And lastly, she would watch one of the researchers enthusiastically eat broccoli, and unenthusiastically eat Goldfish – to show Scarlett that the researcher also had a preference. The same plates of Goldfish and broccoli would be placed in front of Scarlett and she would be asked to give the researcher one of the two items.
As far as 14 month olds (the youngest of the participants in this particular study), this is what Joe and I were told would most likely happen with Scarlett. Scarlett may or may not choose a food to eat. Some toddlers get uncomfortable in situations where everyone is watching them, and don’t feel safe. Scarlett would most likely take the toys from the researcher, and give them back no problem. She would grasp that the researcher preferred broccoli over Goldfish, but Scarlett would either give him her preferred food when he asked for food, or give him no food whatsoever. But if she gave him broccoli…now that would be a miracle and these researchers would instantly become rich and famous and they would make Scarlett rich and famous and give her an instant full scholarship to Yale…redeemable in 17 years. I made some of that last part up – regardless, no 14 month old has ever handed the researcher broccoli.
By now, I’m sure you’re all on the edge of your seats wanting to know how the little Bubsy did. Here we go…when the two plates of food were placed in front of Scarlett, I was shocked. I thought she would go to town eating the Goldfish (her favorites), but she was hesitant. She started sitting cross-legged on the floor, and wouldn’t take any food. She moved to Joe’s lap, no food. She kept looking around the room and giggling at the people watching her. After moving to my lap she eventually took a Goldfish VERY SLOWLY, and ate it. The crunch was deafening. She ate another, and another. It was determined she preferred Goldfish to broccoli. Genius!! Then we moved into the other room. She sat on my lap and was handed a green rubber duck, and was immediately asked to give it back, which she did. Then a blue rubber duck – same process, same result. And now, here came the clincher. After the researcher ate a piece of broccoli and said “MMMmmmm,” he ate a Goldfish and said “YUCK!” The plates were then put back in front of Bubsy.
The researcher extended his hand and asked Scarlett to give him some food. Then we played the wait game. He asked again – and nothing. He asked again, and Scarlett looked at him with the blankest stare I have ever seen her give. “Scarlett…can I have some food?” he asked again. Nothing – again. Then Scarlett reached out her little hand slowly. Oh God…she was going for something! She was!! And she was going for the broccoli!! She slowly reached her hand up to the broccoli, formed a little pincher with her thumb and forefinger, and made actual contact with the vegetable that could classify my child as a genius. Up until this point, everything had been in slow motion – but not this. Scarlett gasped and withdrew her broccoli-less hand from that plate quicker than she has ever done anything in her entire life. If it were not a cooked vegetable, I would have sworn that broccoli bit her. That’s that. No broccoli. So what next? Scarlett reaches out and grabs a Goldfish. Does she give it to the researcher? No. The greedy little butthead ate it herself. And another. And another. And all the while she was staring at the researcher not blinking an eye. I have never laughed so hard in my life while still attempting to remain somewhat professional because they were filming the experiment. So what did we discover? Scarlett is like every other 14 month old that participated in this project. Well…she’s a genius in my book. Broccoli is pretty gross.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Posted by Cheeky Baby at 8/06/2008