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A claw is like my hand: comparison supports goal analysis in infants

Gerson, Sarah. A. and Woodward, Amanda 2012. A claw is like my hand: comparison supports goal analysis in infants. Cognition 122 (2) , pp. 181-192. 10.1016/j.cognition.2011.10.014

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Abstract

Understanding the intentional relations in others’ actions is critical to human social life. Origins of this knowledge exist in the first year and are a function of both acting as an intentional agent and observing movement cues in actions. We explore a new mechanism we believe plays an important role in infants’ understanding of new actions: comparison. We examine how the opportunity to compare a familiar action with a novel, tool use action helps 7- and 10-month-old infants extract and imitate the goal of a tool use action. Infants given the chance to compare their own reach for a toy with an experimenter’s reach using a claw later imitated the goal of an experimenter’s tool use action. Infants who engaged with the claw, were familiarized with the claw’s causal properties, or learned the associations between claw and toys (but did not align their reaches with the claw’s) did not imitate. Further, active participation in the familiar action to be compared was more beneficial than observing a familiar and novel action aligned for 10-month-olds. Infants’ ability to extract the goal-relation of a novel action through comparison with a familiar action could have a broad impact on the development of action knowledge and social learning more generally.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Infancy; Cognitive development; Action understanding; Analogical reasoning
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0010-0277
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 24 October 2011
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2017 00:51
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/84344

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