Hi Readers — In response to the story somewhere below, about “Annie’s Mailbox” spreading the belief that a family decal on a car could delight, incite and invite predators, another reader sent in this wonderful study about wallets.
Yes, wallets. Researchers in England “dropped” 240 wallets outside, to see which ones would be returned. Forty of the wallets contained a baby picture, 40 had a family photo, 40 had a picture of an elderly couple and another 40 had a puppy pic. Then there were 40 with a receipt from a recent charity contribution (but no photo). And the final 40 had nothing special in them at all. All of the wallets contained the same business cards and identification, none held any money.
Result? The ones with the baby picture had the highest rate of return! They were sent back almost 9 out of 10 times. The return rate was next highest for the puppy, then the family, then the elderly couple. The charity receipt and wallets with nothing special in them at all had the lowest rate of return.
What the researcher, Dr. Richard Wiseman (perfect name!), concluded from this is that, “The baby kicked off a caring feeling in people.” He added that, in evolutionary terms, this just makes sense: We are genetically coded to care for our young and seeing pretty much any baby jump starts that feeling. (It’s not like we’re coded only to care for a handful of particular baby faces, which happen to be our own offsprings’. Any young faces make us feel protective.)
Let’s remember this hardwired connection to all kids when we think about the world. More and more, especially with the advent of GPS for backpacks, and laws keeping adults without kids off of playgrounds, and restrictions on the photography of random children, and advertisements that suggest predators are all around, we are being brainwashed into believing the world is awash in perverts and it’s the rare adult who does not harbor creepy feelings for children.
This is the exact opposite of the truth. It is a lie that is making us suspicious, disconnected, miserable, pliant and frightened. We must fight to help each other — and especially people who don’t visit this site — remember that the vast majority of humans would rather HELP children, than hurt them. — Lenore