NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ945346
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Sep
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 49
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
Infants Learn about Objects from Statistics and People
Wu, Rachel; Gopnik, Alison; Richardson, Daniel C.; Kirkham, Natasha Z.
Developmental Psychology, v47 n5 p1220-1229 Sep 2011
In laboratory experiments, infants are sensitive to patterns of visual features that co-occur (e.g., Fiser & Aslin, 2002). Once infants learn the statistical regularities, however, what do they do with that knowledge? Moreover, which patterns do infants learn in the cluttered world outside of the laboratory? Across 4 experiments, we show that 9-month-olds use this sensitivity to make inferences about object properties. In Experiment 1, 9-month-old infants expected co-occurring visual features to remain fused (i.e., infants looked longer when co-occurring features split apart than when they stayed together). Forming such expectations can help identify integral object parts for object individuation, recognition, and categorization. In Experiment 2, we increased the task difficulty by presenting the test stimuli simultaneously with a different spatial layout from the familiarization trials to provide a more ecologically valid condition. Infants did not make similar inferences in this more distracting test condition. However, Experiment 3 showed that a social cue did allow inferences in this more difficult test condition, and Experiment 4 showed that social cues helped infants choose patterns among distractor patterns during learning as well as during test. These findings suggest that infants can use feature co-occurrence to learn about objects and that social cues shape such foundational learning in distraction-filled environments. (Contains 1 table and 4 figures.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A