The role of effects for infants' perception of action goals

Bianca Jovanovic, Ildikó Király, Birgit Elsner, György Gergely, Wolfgang Prinz, Gisa Aschersleben

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies have demonstrated that 6-month-olds perceive manual actions as object-directed (Woodward, 1999) - and that 8-, but not 6-month-olds, apply this interpretation even to unfamiliar actions if these produce salient object-directed effects (Kiràly, Jovanovic, Prinz, Aschersleben, & Gergely, 2003). The present study had two objectives. First, we tested the alternative interpretation that action effects result in a general increase of attention by testing infants with an analogous paradigm, including however a non-human agent. Second, we investigated in how far the negative findings for the 6-month-olds reported in the study by Kiràly et al. (2003) might be due to the familiarity of the action or the discriminability of the objects involved. The results indicate that adding effects to both a familiar and an unfamiliar action leads even 6-month-olds to interpret the respective action as object-directed, given that the objects are well discriminable. However, infants do not apply such an interpretation to actions of a non-human agent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-290
Number of pages18
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2007


  • Action effects
  • Goal attribution
  • Habituation
  • Human action
  • Infant cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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  • Cite this

    Jovanovic, B., Király, I., Elsner, B., Gergely, G., Prinz, W., & Aschersleben, G. (2007). The role of effects for infants' perception of action goals. Psychologia, 50(4), 273-290.