ERIC Number: EJ1051742
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Aug
Abstractor: As Provided
Probability versus Representativeness in Infancy: Can Infants Use Naïve Physics to Adjust Population Base Rates in Probabilistic Inference?
Denison, Stephanie; Trikutam, Pallavi; Xu, Fei
Developmental Psychology, v50 n8 p2009-2019 Aug 2014
A rich tradition in developmental psychology explores physical reasoning in infancy. However, no research to date has investigated whether infants can reason about physical objects that behave probabilistically, rather than deterministically. Physical events are often quite variable, in that similar-looking objects can be placed in similar contexts with different outcomes. Can infants rapidly acquire probabilistic physical knowledge, such as "some leaves fall" and "some glasses break" by simply observing the statistical regularity with which objects behave and apply that knowledge in subsequent reasoning? We taught 11-month-old infants physical constraints on objects and asked them to reason about the probability of different outcomes when objects were drawn from a large distribution. Infants could have reasoned either by using the perceptual similarity between the samples and larger distributions or by applying physical rules to adjust base rates and estimate the probabilities. Infants learned the physical constraints quickly and used them to estimate probabilities, rather than relying on similarity, a version of the representativeness heuristic. These results indicate that infants can rapidly and flexibly acquire physical knowledge about objects following very brief exposure and apply it in subsequent reasoning.
Descriptors: Developmental Psychology, Infants, Probability, Inferences, Knowledge Level, Observation, Logical Thinking, Cognitive Development, Thinking Skills, Cognitive Processes, Visual Stimuli, Prediction, Eye Movements
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
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Identifiers - Location: California
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