Spatial cueing by a novel agent in preschool children and adults
Beier, Jonathan S
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In the current study we assessed preschool children and adults' reflexive, covert spatial attentional response to a novel entity. In particular, we assessed whether covert attention was selectively engaged after construing the novel entity as an agent. Previous research has demonstrated that children and adults' covert spatial attention may be flexibly engaged by a non-directional cueing stimulus (e.g., a circle), however this attentional response is neither spontaneous nor is it reflexive (i.e., participants were told that the stimulus predicted the eventual target's location). For the first time we have shown that covert spatial attention is spontaneously and reflexively engaged by a morphologically unfamiliar cueing character when it is interpreted as an agent but not otherwise. The implication of this finding for theoretical accounts of the development of covert attention and agency attributions more generally are discussed.