The impact of specific prior experiences on infants’ extension of animal properties


Address for correspondence: Stephanie Furrer, Department of Psychology, Hastings College, Hastings, NE 68901, USA; e-mail:


We examined the influence of prior exposure to specific animal properties on 15-month-old infants’ inductive generalization. Using picture books, 29 infants were trained on properties linked in a congruent or incongruent manner with four animal categories. A generalized imitation task was then administered to assess patterns of property extension for two of the trained properties as well as two untrained properties aligned with the training categories. Prior exposure to particular category–property relations was shown to impact infants’ property extensions in that infants selected a novel member of the training category for their imitation. For untrained properties, infants selected equally between novel members of the training and non-training categories. The findings highlight the dynamic nature of inductive processes in infancy.