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Do infants bind mental states to agents?

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

Recent findings suggest that infants understand others' preferential choice and can use the perspectives and beliefs of others to interpret their actions. The standard interpretation in the field is that infants understand preferential choice as a dispositional state of the agent. It is possible, however, that these social situations trigger the acquisition of more general, not person-specific knowledge. In a looking-time study we showed an Agent A demonstrating a choice, that only could have been interpreted as preferential based on the perspective (and thus the belief) of the agent, not the observer. Then we introduced a new agent (Agent B), who chose consistently or inconsistently with Agent A; also varying whether Agent B was an adult or a child. Results show that infants expected Agent B (both the adult and the child) to choose as Agent A, but only in the condition where according to Agent A's knowledge two objects were present in familiarization(confirming previous evidence on the importance of contrastive choice). We interpret these results in the following way: (1) infants do not encode the perspectives of other agents as person-specific sources of knowledge and (2) they learn about the object, rather than the agent's disposition towards that object. We propose that early theory of mind processes lack the binding of belief content to the belief holder. However, such limitation may in fact serve an important function, allowing infants to acquire information through the perspectives of others in the form of universal access to general information. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftCognition
Vol/bind129
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)232-240
Antal sider9
ISSN0010-0277
DOI
StatusUdgivet - nov. 2013
Eksternt udgivetJa

ID: 255398206