Infant and Child Development

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Volume 21 Issue 3 (May/June 2012), Pages 1-324

Infants Anticipate Others' Social Preferences (pages 239-249)

In the current eye‐tracking study, we explored whether 12‐month‐old infants can predict others' social preferences. We showed infants scenes in which two characters alternately helped or hindered an agent in his goal of climbing a hill. In a control condition, the two characters moved up and down the hill in identical ways to the helper and hinderer but did not make contact with the agent; thus, they did not cause him to reach or not reach his goal. Following six alternating familiarization trials of helping and hindering interactions (help–hinder condition) or up and down interactions (up–down condition), infants were shown one test trial in which they could visually anticipate the agent approaching one of the two characters. As predicted, infants in the help–hinder condition made significantly more visual anticipations toward the helping than hindering character, suggesting that they predicted the agent to approach the helping character. In contrast, infants revealed no difference in visual anticipations between the up and down characters. The up–down condition served to control for low‐level perceptual explanations of the results for the help–hinder condition. Thus, together the results reveal that 12‐month‐old infants make predictions about others' behaviour and social preferences from a third‐party perspective. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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