Think fast! The relationship between goal prediction speed and social competence in infants

Sheila Krogh-Jespersen*, Zoe Liberman, Amanda L. Woodward

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Skilled social interactions require knowledge about others' intentions and the ability to implement this knowledge in real-time to generate appropriate responses to one's partner. Young infants demonstrate an understanding of other people's intentions (e.g. Woodward, Sommerville, Gerson, Henderson & Buresh, 2009), yet it is not until the second year that infants seem to master the real-time implementation of their knowledge during social interactions (e.g. Warneken & Tomasello, 2007). The current study investigates the possibility that developments in social competence during the second year are related to increases in the speed with which infants can employ their understanding of others' intentions. Twenty- to 22-month-old infants (N = 23) viewed videos of goal-directed actions on a Tobii eye-tracker and then engaged in an interactive perspective-taking task. Infants who quickly and accurately anticipated another person's future behavior in the eye-tracking task were more successful at taking their partner's perspective in the social interaction. Success on the perspective-taking task was specifically related to the ability to correctly predict another person's intentions. These findings highlight the importance of not only being a 'smart' social partner but also a 'fast' social thinker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)815-823
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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