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Action, Agents, Objects and Outcomes: How Infants Learn About Their World
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There is a large body of work demonstrating that infants are sensitive to the distinction between human and mechanical agents from the early months of life, with different expectations for how those agents move and interact with the world around them. Further, infants are able to understand scenes in which objects engage in functionally-relevant events. Lastly, this functional information can enhance how infants determine the number of objects in a scene. Infants aged 9 months watched two kinds of hands (human or mechanical) engage in functionally-relevant priming events, which allowed the infants to link surface color of the object to the distinct function (wherein color becomes of predictive value). Then the infants watched two kinds of event-mapping test events (color change or control), to assess object individuation. We assessed total duration of looking to the color change and control test events. Results revealed that infants use color as predictive value after watching the human hands perform functionally-relevant events, but not if infants watched mechanical hands perform the same functionally-relevant events. The discussion examines the importance of this finding, and how this fits into and adds to existing work with infants in object cognitive area.
Biondi, Marisa E (2018). Action, Agents, Objects and Outcomes: How Infants Learn About Their World. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from