Goal attribution to inanimate agents by 6.5-month-old infants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

172 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Human infants' tendency to attribute goals to observed actions may help us to understand where people's obsession with goals originates from. While one-year-old infants liberally interpret the behaviour of many kinds of agents as goal-directed, a recent report [Kamewari, K., Kato, M., Kanda, T., Ishiguro, H., & Hiraki, K. (2005). Six-and-a-half-month-old children positively attribute goals to human action and to humanoid-robot motion. Cognitive Development, 20, 303-320] suggested that younger infants restrict goal attribution to humans and human-like creatures. The present experiment tested whether 6.5-month-old infants would be willing to attribute a goal to a moving inanimate box if it slightly varied its goal approach within the range of the available efficient actions. The results were positive, demonstrating that featural identification of agents is not a necessary precondition of goal attribution in young infants and that the single most important behavioural cue for identifying a goal-directed agent is variability of behaviour. This result supports the view that the bias to give teleological interpretation to actions is not entirely derived from infants' experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-717
Number of pages13
JournalCognition
Volume107
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2008

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attribution
infant
cognitive development
robot
Obsessive Behavior
Goal Attribution
interpretation
Cues
experiment
trend
experience

Keywords

  • Goal attribution
  • Infancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

Goal attribution to inanimate agents by 6.5-month-old infants. / Csibra, G.

In: Cognition, Vol. 107, No. 2, 05.2008, p. 705-717.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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