The role of behavioral cues in understanding goal-directed actions in infancy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

45 Citations (Scopus)


Infants show very early sensitivity to a variety of behavioral cues (such as self-propulsion, equifinal movement, free variability, and situational adjustment of behavior) that can be exploited when identifying, predicting, and interpreting goal-directed actions of intentional agents. We compare and contrast recent alternative models concerning the role that different types of behavioral cues play in human infants' early understanding of animacy, agency, and intentional action. We present new experimental evidence from violation of expectation studies to evaluate these alternative models on the nature of early development of understanding goal-directedness by human infants. Our results support the view that, while infants initially do not restrict goal attribution to behaviors of agents exhibiting self-propelled motion, they quickly develop such expectations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom Action to Cognition
EditorsC. Hofsten, K. Rosander
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 3 2007

Publication series

NameProgress in Brain Research
ISSN (Print)0079-6123



  • action interpretation
  • agency
  • animacy
  • goal attribution
  • infancy
  • intentionality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Biro, S., Csibra, G., & Gergely, G. (2007). The role of behavioral cues in understanding goal-directed actions in infancy. In C. Hofsten, & K. Rosander (Eds.), From Action to Cognition (pp. 303-322). (Progress in Brain Research; Vol. 164).