The choice is yours: Infants' expectations about an agent's future behavior based on taking and receiving actions.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Our social world is rich with information about other people's choices, which subsequently inform our inferences about their future behavior. For individuals socialized within the American cultural context, which places a high value on autonomy and independence, outcomes that are the result of an agent's own choices may hold more predictive value than similar outcomes that are the result of another person's choices. Across two experiments we test the ontogeny of this phenomenon; that is, whether infants are sensitive to the causal history associated with an agent's acquisition of an object. We demonstrate that on average, 12.5-month-old American infants view taking actions as a better indication of an agent's future behavior than are receiving actions. Furthermore, there were significant individual differences in the extent to which infants perceived object receipt to be indicative of future behavior. Specifically, the less autonomous infants were perceived to be (by their parents), socialized to be, and behaved, the more they viewed object receipt as indicative of future behavior. The results are discussed in terms of the role of individual and cultural experience in early understanding of intentional action. (PsycINFO Database Record

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Eason, AE; Doctor, D; Chang, E; Kushnir, T; Sommerville, JA

Published Date

  • May 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 54 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 829 - 841

PubMed ID

  • 29283594

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5920768

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-0599

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0012-1649

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/dev0000482


  • eng