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10-month-old infants’ inference of invisible agent: Distinction in causality between object motion and human action

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Two habituation experiments investigated 10-month-old infants’ interpretation of events where a stationary object began to move without any visible causes. During habituation, infants saw that an object partly hidden by an occluder began to move away from the occluder. Then, they were tested with three test events without the occluder: the first event showed a hand pushing the object, the second event showed a hand failing to touch the object, and the last event had no agent. The objects were a ball in Experiment 1, and a person in Experiment 2. The test event that the infants looked at for the shortest duration in Experiment 1 was where the hand pushed the ball, whereas they looked at the three test events almost equal amounts of time in Experiment 2. These results indicate that 10-month-old infants responded to the events in terms of causality and could infer the presence of the agent behind the occluder only when they saw the habituation event featuring the ball.
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Keywords: agency; causal cognition; cognitive development; infants; making inference

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Kyoto University, Department of Psychology, Graduate School of Letters, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan

Publication date: 01 February 2003

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