Young infants' actions reveal their developing knowledge of support variables

Converging evidence for violation-of-expectation findings

Susan J Hespos*, Renée Baillargeon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Violation-of-expectation (VOE) tasks have revealed substantial developments in young infants' knowledge about support events: by 5.5 months, infants expect an object to fall when released against but not on a surface; and by 6.5 months, infants expect an object to fall when released with 15% but not 100% of its bottom on a surface. Here we investigated whether action tasks would reveal the same developmental pattern. Consistent with VOE reports, 5.5- and 6.5-month-old infants were more likely to reach for a toy that rested on as opposed to against a surface; and 6.5- but not 5.5-month-olds were more likely to reach for a toy with 100% as opposed to 15% of its bottom on a surface. Infants at each age thus used their support knowledge to determine whether the toys were likely to be retrievable or to be attached to adjacent surfaces and hence irretrievable. These and control findings extend recent evidence that developmental patterns observed in VOE tasks also hold in action tasks, and as such provide further support for the view that VOE and action tasks tap the same physical knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-316
Number of pages13
JournalCognition
Volume107
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2008

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Keywords

  • Action task
  • Infant cognition
  • Physical knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Cite this

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title = "Young infants' actions reveal their developing knowledge of support variables: Converging evidence for violation-of-expectation findings",
abstract = "Violation-of-expectation (VOE) tasks have revealed substantial developments in young infants' knowledge about support events: by 5.5 months, infants expect an object to fall when released against but not on a surface; and by 6.5 months, infants expect an object to fall when released with 15{\%} but not 100{\%} of its bottom on a surface. Here we investigated whether action tasks would reveal the same developmental pattern. Consistent with VOE reports, 5.5- and 6.5-month-old infants were more likely to reach for a toy that rested on as opposed to against a surface; and 6.5- but not 5.5-month-olds were more likely to reach for a toy with 100{\%} as opposed to 15{\%} of its bottom on a surface. Infants at each age thus used their support knowledge to determine whether the toys were likely to be retrievable or to be attached to adjacent surfaces and hence irretrievable. These and control findings extend recent evidence that developmental patterns observed in VOE tasks also hold in action tasks, and as such provide further support for the view that VOE and action tasks tap the same physical knowledge.",
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Young infants' actions reveal their developing knowledge of support variables : Converging evidence for violation-of-expectation findings. / Hespos, Susan J; Baillargeon, Renée.

In: Cognition, Vol. 107, No. 1, 01.04.2008, p. 304-316.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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