Toddlers already care about what others think of them, researchers say. Picture: Max Pixel

London - They might have only just begun learning how to express themselves – but toddlers already care about what others think of them, researchers say.

Children under two have the same instinct as adults to make people like them, a study has found. 

Psychologists presented 144 children aged 14 to 24 months with a robot which lit up and moved when buttons on remote controls were pressed. 

In one experiment, an adult said "wow" after using one remote control to move the robot, while saying "uh-oh" when using a second remote. 

When being watched by an adult, the toddlers were around twice as likely to use the remote that the grown-up had preferred.

A second test found children operated the robot 7.7 times on average in front of a woman who liked the toy, but only 5.7 times in front of one who did not. 

Commenting on the report, published in the journal Developmental Psychology, study author Sara Botto, of Emory University in the US, said: "We’ve shown that by the age of 24 months, children are not only aware that other people may be evaluating them, but that they will alter their behaviour to seek a positive response."