A claw is like my hand : comparison supports goal analysis in infants
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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.
Gerson , S & Woodward , A 2012 , ' A claw is like my hand : comparison supports goal analysis in infants ' Cognition , vol 122 , no. 2 , pp. 181-192 . DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2011.10.014
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Cognition. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Cognition, 122, 2 (2012), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2011.10.014
Support for this work was provided by an NICHD Grant (R01 HD 035707) to the second author and an Ann G. Wylie Dissertation Fellowship and Janet W. Johnson Student Summer Fellowship for the Study of Developmental Psychology to the first author.
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