Active resource transfer is a pervasive and distinctive feature of human sociality. We hypothesized that humans possess an action schema of giving specific for representing social interactions based on material exchange, and specified the set of necessary assumptions about giving events that this action schema should be equipped with. We tested this proposal by investigating how 12-month-old infants interpret abstract resource-transfer events. Across eight looking-time studies using a violation-of-expectation paradigm we found that infants were able to distinguish between kinematically identical giving and taking actions. Despite the surface similarity between these two actions, only giving was represented as an object-mediated social interaction. While we found no evidence that infants expected the target of a giving or taking action to reciprocate, the present results suggest that infants interpret giving as an inherently social action, which they can possibly use to map social relations via observing resource-transfer episodes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Language and Linguistics
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Linguistics and Language
- Cognitive Neuroscience