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Infants' understanding of intentions underlying agents' helping and hindering actions  

Lee, Young-Eun (Department of Psychology, Yonsei University)
Song, Hyun-Joo (Department of Psychology, Yonsei University)
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Korean Journal of Cognitive Science / v.25, no.2, 2014 , pp. 135-157 More about this Journal
The present study investigated whether 6- and 12-month-old infants could infer an agent's social preference on the basis of intentions. In Experiment 1, 12-month-old infants were first familiarized with two kinds of event: the helping and the hindering events. In the helping event, an agent (either a square or triangle) tried to help a circle climb up the hill and the movie stopped right before the circle reached the top of the hill. Thus, the outcome of the helping behavior was made to be ambiguous. Similarly, in the hindering movie, another agent tried to hinder the circle from reaching the top of the hill and the movie stopped right before the circle slipped down to the base of the hill making the final outcome of the hindering behavior unclear. During the test trial, infants were either presented with an event in which the circle approached the helper (approach-helper condition) or an event in which the circle approached the hinderer (approach-hinderer condition). The results indicated that both 6- and 12-month-olds looked longer at the approach-helper event than at the approach-hinderer event. Thus, by 6 months of age, infants are sensitive to agents' intentions when reasoning about agents' social preference. The current findings add to the emerging evidence on social evaluation and moral reasoning during infancy.
intention; disposition; prosocial bahevior; moral development;
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