Is agency skin-deep? Surface attributes influence infants' sensitivity to goal-directed action
Guajardo, J. J.
Guajardo, J. J., & Woodward, A. L. (2004). Is agency skin-deep? Surface attributes influence infants' sensitivity to goal-directed action, Infancy , 6, 361-384.
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Three studies investigated the role of surface attributes in infants’ identification of agents, using a habituation paradigm designed to tap infants’ interpretation of grasping as goal directed (Woodward, 1998). When they viewed a bare human hand grasping objects, 7- and 12-month-old infants focused on the relation between the hand and its goal. When the surface properties of the hand were obscured by a glove, however, neither 7- nor 12-month-old infants represented its actions as goal directed (Study 1). Next, infants were shown that the gloved hands were part of a person either prior to (Study 2) or during (Study 3) the habituation procedure. Infants who actively monitored the gloved person in Study 2 and older infants in Study 3 interpreted the gloved reaches as goal directed. Thus, varying the extent to which an entity is identifiable as a person impacts infants’ interpretation of the entity as an agent.