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Infants’ reasoning about hidden objects: evidence for event-general and event-specific expectations


Renée Baillargeon, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, 603 E. Daniel, Champaign, IL 61820, USA; e-mail:


Research over the past 20 years has revealed that even very young infants possess expectations about physical events, and that these expectations undergo significant developments during the first year of life. In this article, I first review some of this research, focusing on infants’ expectations about occlusion, containment, and covering events, all of which involve hidden objects. Next, I present an account of infants’ physical reasoning that integrates these various findings, and describe new experiments that test predictions from this account. Finally, because all of the research I discuss uses the violation-of-expectation method, I address recent concerns about this method and summarize new findings that help alleviate these concerns.