ERIC Number: EJ849466
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 77
Ten-Month-Old Infants Use Prior Information to Identify an Actor's Goal
Sommerville, Jessica A.; Crane, Catharyn C.
Developmental Science, v12 n2 p314-325 Mar 2009
For adults, prior information about an individual's likely goals, preferences or dispositions plays a powerful role in interpreting ambiguous behavior and predicting and interpreting behavior in novel contexts. Across two studies, we investigated whether 10-month-old infants' ability to identify the goal of an ambiguous action sequence was facilitated by seeing prior instances in which the actor directly pursued and obtained her goal, and whether infants could use this prior information to understand the actor's behavior in a new context. Experiment 1 demonstrated that the goal preview impacted infants' subsequent action understanding, but only if the preview was delivered in the same room as the subsequent action sequence. Experiment 2 demonstrated that infants' failure to transfer prior goal information across situations arose from a change in the room per se and not other features of the task. Our results suggest that infants may use their understanding of simple actions as a leverage point for understanding novel or ambiguous actions, but that their ability to do so is limited to certain types of contextual changes.
Descriptors: Infants, Objectives, Behavior, Prediction, Experiments, Child Development, Cognitive Development, Identification, Research Reports
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Authoring Institution: N/A