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    Infants learn enduring functions of novel tools from action demonstrations

    Hernik, M. and Csibra, Gergely (2015) Infants learn enduring functions of novel tools from action demonstrations. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 130 , pp. 176-192. ISSN 0022-0965.

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    According to recent theoretical proposals, one function of infant goal attribution is to support early social learning of artifact functions from instrumental actions, and one function of infant sensitivity to communication is to support early acquisition of generic knowledge about enduring, kind-relevant properties of the referents. The current study tested two hypotheses, derived from these proposals, about the conditions that facilitate the acquisition of enduring functions for novel tools during human infancy. Using a violation-of-expectation paradigm, we show that 13.5-month-old infants encode arbitrary end states of action sequences in relation to the novel tools employed to bring them about. These mappings are not formed if the same end states of action sequences cannot be interpreted as action goals. Moreover, the tool–goal mappings acquired from infant-directed communicative demonstrations are more resilient to counterevidence than those acquired from non-infant-directed presentations and, thus, show similarities to generic representations rather than episodic ones. These findings suggest that the acquisition of tool functions during infancy is guided by both teleological action interpretation mechanisms and the expectation that communicative demonstrations reveal enduring dispositional properties of tools.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Infancy, Tool function, Goal, Teleological action interpretation, Communication, Ostension
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Gergo Csibra
    Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2015 10:32
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:19


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