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Volume 2 Issue 1 (March 1999), Pages 1-113

That’s the way the ball bounces: infants’ and adults’ perception of spatial and temporal contiguity in collisions involving bouncing balls (pages 86-101)

Three experiments investigated the perception of collisions involving bouncing balls by 7‐ and 10‐month‐old infants and adults. In previous research, 10‐month‐old infants perceived the causality of launching collisions (events in which one object moves along a smooth horizontal trajectory toward a second object, apparently launching it into motion) in relatively simple event contexts. In more complex event contexts, infants failed to discriminate among the events or respond to changes in individual features. Experiments 1 and 2 of the present investigation revealed that 7‐ and 10‐month‐old infants attended to spatial and temporal contiguity, but not causality, in collisions involving the movement of bouncing balls. In Experiment 3, both spatiotemporal contiguity and general knowledge about movement trajectories influenced adults’ judgments of causality for these collisions. The present results add to a growing understanding of infants’ event perception as constructive and a function, in part, of the complexity of the event context.

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