Why Do We Care That Kate Middleton is Pregnant?


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mag.jpgThis week news broke out that Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is pregnant with her and William's first child. All of my social media outlets broke out into a frenzy over this exciting news and one of my friends even called me to share her excitement. I too was excited, but why? This isn't my child. I don't even know Kate Middleton. I think she's a pretty interesting woman, but other than that I have no connection to her. Well, according to this article from Time Magazine, caring so much about babies is rooted in our "evolutionary past." For centuries, every time someone brings a baby to an outing or someone sees a cute and smiling baby, they go over and are tempted to play with it. Meredith Small, a professor of anthropology at Cornell University says that this stems from the idea that "it takes a village" to raise a child. "Emotionally, psychologically, we are evolutionarily designed to respond to the look and feel of babes, and hearing about them," says Meredith Small. "It's so ingrained in our genes that it's automatic."
But this doesn't only happen with humans. Monkeys especially are always interested in grabbing and looking at new born babies. We take such joy in this because they baby cannot do much on it's own besides smile and cry, and when a baby smiles at you, you have an instinct to really enjoy it.
Another article I found on Science Daily says that this idea of caring for infants that we hear about comes from Darwin. He said that we have an instinctual care for defenseless infants and want to help them. Research at the University of Oxford concluded that a region of the human brain called the medial orbitofrontal cortex has a very quick respond to unfamiliar infant faces but not to adult ones. This means that humans are more likely to sense comfort quicker in babies faces than in older humans. 
250px-OFC.JPG
So why do we care that Kate Middleton is having a baby even though we don't know her? Well, her celebrity combined with the fact that us as humans have a strong inclination to obsess over babies and enjoy them makes us go into a frenzy over celebrities with babies. The Time Magazine article states: "Because they are celebrities, we feel we know Kate and William. And after 40 million years of sharing everything as hunter-gatherers, it's simply our nature to nurture their child-even if that just means talking about it on twitter."

2 Comments

This is so interesting! My roommate and I were literally just talking about this. We're all so obsessed with the Royal Family when they really have nothing to do with us at all. I was so excited I called my mom, because she is the one I got up at 4am to watch their Royal Wedding with. I got almost as excited as if my own brother were to tell me he and his wife were having a baby. And apparently we're not the only ones who can't figure out why we're so excited
http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/style/2012/09/26/kate-middleton-pregnant-and-why-care-much/DBu2BrsrBT2Lb1Ioh1uzTM/story.html

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/12/04/royal-baby-why-do-americans-care-so-much/

http://gokicker.com/2012/12/04/kate-middleton-is-pregnant-why-do-you-want-to-click-on-this-headline/

I agree, this is very interesting. I smiled when I read the sentence about instantly wanting to play with a baby when one enters the room because I have definitely experienced that on many occasions. In fact, it seems that many people experience that feeling when the kids from the day care walk through campus. In fact, I think that this reaction is heightened even more on the Penn State Campus because we so rarely see or interact with young children. However, I have to wonder about the people that can't stand the sight of a baby. The "Baby Center" presented a compelling article about why childless people hate children. The blog features a lot of very different opinions about children and it is interesting how people have such different takes on this issue: http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/why-do-childless-people-hate-kids-so-much/

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