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TEDxAtlanta: Sarah Botto discovers children care about their reputation from the age of two

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If you thought a child’s awareness of society’s social expectations is slim to none, think again.

New research studies reveal beginning at the age of two years old children pay attention to what others think of them and will adjust their behavior accordingly with the interest of their reputation in mind.

Still, don’t believe us?

Ph.D. candidate in the Cognition and Development program at Emory University, Sara Botto is here to answer your questions and debunk your myths.

The doctoral student has been diligently dissecting this psychological study for quite some time and is ready to share her findings with the world.

On March 15, Botto is slated to give her first ever TED Talk during the TEDxAtlanta Conference. The anticipated event is already sold but will be available via livestream.

Check out the full interview below.

What sparked this study or this question?
In the literature, a lot of people had researched when children begin to develop a reputation which is around four to five years of age. We didn’t know a lot about when that would emerge or the type of factors that might contribute, and I thought this was important because the extent that we care about what people think of us really influences our behavior. I thought this was important phenomena to understand from its origins so that’s why I want to investigate when exactly that would emerge in development.

What kind of response have you received to your to your research/findings? It was very surprising that we found children modify their behavior strategically right before the age of two. Most people thought this wouldn’t emerge until after four years of age when children started school. Children are sensitive to the values other people are expressing and then they’re incorporating them into their behavior. The sensitivity is adapted in a sense that if we know what people are going to value we’re more likely to behave that way and be accepted in a group. These are all important things in development and for our self-esteem.

Why is this research important? What are the possible real-world applications? For cognitive a processes, if we, for example, find a certain ability to understand other people’s point of view and how it contributes to the extent of how we care about the evaluation of others then we might be able to create implement some kind of intervention for individuals with autism, which might allow them to incorporate into society a little better than they are. Now for typically developing the average person, basically understanding why you care so much about other people’s opinions can give you power. If were are able to understand why we think a certain way we’re able to reflect.

What do you want to achieve with your research?
We know very little about the type of factors –– social factors, cognitive factors that contribute to the extent that we come to care about what others think about us. I see our concern for others evaluation of the spectrum. One one hand, you have individuals with autism who aren’t really socially motivated and they don’t really care to illicit any approval from others. On the other side of the spectrum are those individuals with social anxiety who are extremely concerned with how others are going to evaluate them. If we’re able to understand the cognitive and social factors then we could explain some of the individual differences and better understand the clinical disorders but also what might contribute to our care for other people’s opinion –– that’s the end goal.

I recently reviewed a media report from Nerdy Creator on why people want to please each other. The article states people begin to please each other when they want something in return, are highly impressionable, or are hoping to feel worthy. Do you agree?
I absolutely agree that we begin to be sensitive to the evaluation of others. We want to please people because it’s beneficial for us. There’s a lot of actual debate about why we care about what other people think and whether we want to please people because we want to get something in return or are trying to find value in what others think about us.
It’s all about concept and what others think about me is going to get incorporated into what I think about myself. My personal opinion is that It changes from person to person and context to context. However, just like everything in life, something can be beneficial in moderation but if you have too much of it you can develop something like social anxiety.

Have you noticed any difference or similarities between demographics or gender? Excellent question! We have ongoing research right now asking those exact questions. That project is ongoing so I can’t definitively say whether those factors are influential or not. Hopefully in a couple months will know.

What the gist of your TED talk?
My talk specifically is really about how we are always communicating values to others. I think when parents understand that early on, your kids are picking up on the values you put down. They’re motivated to get approval from you. We’re also exploring the factors of how caregivers behave so that their children do not develop a lot of sensitivity. Parents can really adjust their behaviors or be mindful so their children do not develop a lot of sensitivity so that they don’t look for approval. We can be mindful of what things we’re praising and what things we’re emphasizing because that’s what’s going to shape the child’s behavior.

Why do you feel this research study could potentially change the world?
I think it’s two-fold: the first is how those people interact with young kids and how powerful our behavior and our words can be. I think sharing the fact that before they can even talk they are really paying attention to what you’re doing. It’s behavior that you’re not explicitly telling the child. They’re really watching what you’re doing in general and how you react to certain things. Understand that emerges early on, I think that really raises some awareness for caregivers and parents around kids, letting them know what you do matters very early on.

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Solar powered re-design of Notre Dame spire could be on the horizon

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Vincent Callebaut Architectures

After a devastating fire gutted parts of the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the French government announced an international competition to redesign the Notre Dame spire. One of the designs gaining public interest is a glass roof and spire that can harness solar energy. 

Vincent Callebaut Architectures

If selected, the design by Vincent Callebaut Architecture will install a roof and spire made up of diamond glass panels supported by steel frames. Each of the panels would store solar power in hydrogen fuel cells, which are projected to provide electricity for the cathedral and some buildings in its vicinity. 

The green design also incorporates food sustainability by having a vegetable garden on its rooftop. The produce from this urban farm would feed Paris’ homeless population. 

Vincent Callebaut Architectures

Aside from Vincent Callebaut Architecture, other firms have submitted modern yet elegant designs that complement the French Gothic design of the cathedral. 

The designs have now been submitted to the French Government, who announced an international competition to re-design the spire of the Cathedral.

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Entertainment

Filmmakers protest anti-abortion laws at Cannes Film festival

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Arthur Mola/Invision/AP

Cannes Film festival has kicked off with an interesting start! On Saturday, moments before the premiere of a controversial Argentine documentary, centering abortion rights, dozens of women used the red carpet as a meeting place to protest against the issue.

The group of women reportedly included filmmakers who wore green ahead of the premiere of Argentine director Juan Solanas’ “Let It Be Law.”

Argentina’s Senate rejected a bill to legalize abortion last year. A modified version of the bill will be presented to Congress on May 28, per AP.

On Tuesday, the Alabama Senate passed a bill that would outlaw almost all abortions in the state, including those involving pregnancies from rape or incest.

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Elizabeth Warren unveils plan to protect abortion rights

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

US Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has called for overhauling federal law to ensure women continue to have access to abortion amid efforts in states like Alabama and Ohio to enact bans.

The issue of abortion has been thrust into the national dialogue after a series of states controlled by Republicans began passing legislation to enact hardline bans. Alabama signed into law on Wednesday the most drastic rollback yet.

“This is a dark moment,” Warren said.

“People are scared and angry. And they are right to be. But this isn’t a moment to back down – it’s time to fight back.”

Warren is one of more than 20 Democrats vying for her party’s nomination to challenge President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election.

Warren has distinguished herself in the field as the candidate with the most prolific series of policy proposals on a myriad of topics.

Warren said Congress should enact laws that reinforce the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalised abortion. A new law should go further to prohibit states from “interfering in the ability of a patient to access medical care, including abortion services, from a provider that offers them.”

Warren also wants Congress to enact laws that invalidate state rules that have placed near-impossible regulations on abortion clinics.

She would also prohibit states from limiting access to the medications that are used to perform abortions.

Warren said Congress should require all health care insurance cover abortions. Republicans have pushed for the opposite, imposing rules that prohibited government-backed insurance from covering abortion services and trying to limit the ability of private insurers to do so.

Warren added Congress should go beyond abortion and also ensure access to birth control, comprehensive sex education and care for pregnant women.

“We must build a future that protects the right of all women to have children, the right of all women to not have children, and the right to bring children up in a safe and healthy environment,” Warren said.

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