Interacting Socially With Human Hands at 24 Months of Age


School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Australia, Brisbane, Australia 4072. E-mail:


This experiment explored whether or not 2-year-olds would engage in synchronic imitation with human hands. Sixty-four 24-month-old infants participated. In a test of synchronic imitation, infants were given a toy while a model simultaneously performed novel actions on an identical toy. Infants were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 model conditions: a familiar person, an unfamiliar person, disembodied human hands, and disembodied robotic pincers. Infants were as likely to synchronically imitate disembodied hands as a person. Imitation of the pincers was significantly lower. This pattern suggests that 2-year-olds will engage socially with human hands in the absence of the rest of the body.