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Volume 15 Issue 5 (September 2012), Pages i-ii, 601-730

Nine‐months‐old infants do not need to know what the agent prefers in order to reason about its goals: on the role of preference and persistence in infants’ goal‐attribution (pages 714-722)

Abstract

Human infants readily interpret others’ actions as goal‐directed and their understanding of previous goals shapes their expectations about an agent’s future goal‐directed behavior in a changed situation. According to a recent proposal (Luo & Baillargeon, 2005), infants’ goal‐attributions are not sufficient to support such expectations if the situational change involves broadening the set of choice‐options available to the agent, and the agent’s preferences among this broadened set are not known. The present study falsifies this claim by showing that 9‐month‐olds expect the agent to continue acting towards the previous goal even if additional choice‐options become available for which there is no preference‐related evidence. We conclude that infants do not need to know about the agent’s preferences in order to form expectations about its goal‐directed actions. Implications for the role of action persistency and action selectivity are discussed.

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