Psychology Faculty Publications

Title

Young Infants Have Biological Expectations About Animals

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

10-1-2013

Journal Title

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Volume

110

Issue

40

First Page

15937

Last Page

15942

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1314075110

PubMed ID

24003134

PubMed Central® ID

PMC3791742

Abstract

What are the developmental origins of our concept of animal? There has long been controversy concerning this question. At issue is whether biological reasoning develops from earlier forms of reasoning, such as physical and psychological reasoning, or whether from a young age children endow animals with biological properties. Here we demonstrate that 8-mo-old infants already expect novel objects they identify as animals to have insides. Infants detected a violation when an object that was self-propelled and agentive (but not an object that lacked one or both of these properties) was revealed to be hollow. Infants also detected a violation when an object that was self-propelled and furry (but not an object that lacked one or both of these properties) either was shown to be hollow or rattled (when shaken) as although mostly hollow. Young infants’ expectations about animals’ insides may serve as a foundation for the development of more advanced biological knowledge.

Keywords

Infant cognition, conceptual development, self-propulsion, agency

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