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  • Marie Coppola, a UConn KIDS researcher, tests children at the Bousfield Psychology Building.

Child Development Blog

Infants Can Learn the Value of Hard Work by Watching Persistent Adults

Can an infant pick up on your level of effort while you complete a task? It turns out that 15-month-olds are not only able to recognize persistence, but their behavior can also be influenced by observing persistence. In a recent study, researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology had infants watch adults either quickly complete a task, such as removing a toy from a container, or struggle to complete this task. The infants then where given a toy that seemed like it could be turned on with a button, but  was actually disabled by the researchers. The study found that the group of infants whom had previously witnessed an adult have difficulty with a task pressed the button more times in effort to turn on the toy.  Just by seeing an adult work hard, infants can emulate that same grit in their own behavior. Researcher, Julia Leonard, suggests that instead of parents being pressured to make everything look easy in front of their children, showing hard work may positively impact children. The ways in which we model perseverance around infants and children is especially significant because persistence, even over IQ, is a strong predicting factor of future academic success.


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UConn KIDS is sponsored by the Connecticut Institute for the Brain & Cognitive Science, UConn's Vice President of Research, and The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Our work is governed by our Institutional Review Board (IRB), which ensures compliance and safety for human subjects. Click here to review the UConn IRB website.