Understanding "prior intentions" enables two-year-olds to imitatively learn a complex task.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

This study investigated children's understanding of others' intentions in a social learning context. Specifically, it investigated whether knowing an adult's prior intention before the adult gives a demonstration influences what children learn from the demonstration. In the five main experimental conditions, ninety-six 2-year-old children watched as an experimenter (E) pulled out a pin and opened the door of a box. Children in two No Prior Intention conditions saw this demonstration alone or paired with an irrelevant action. Children in three Prior Intention conditions knew what E was trying to do before the demonstration: they first saw E either attempt unsuccessfully to open the door, or visit and open several other containers, or they first saw that the door opened. Children opened the box themselves more often in each of these three conditions than in the two No Prior Intention conditions, even though children in all five conditions saw the exact same demonstration of how to open the box.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Carpenter, M; Call, J; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • September 2002

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 73 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 1431 - 1441

PubMed ID

  • 12361310

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-8624

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0009-3920

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/1467-8624.00481


  • eng