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To see or not to see: infants prefer to follow the gaze of a reliable looker

Authors


Address for correspondence: Virginia Chow, Department of Psychology, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke Street West, PY 276–3, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H4B 1R6; e-mail: vchow@alcor.concordia.ca

Abstract

In two experiments, we examined whether 14-month-olds understand the subjective nature of gaze. In the first experiment, infants first observed an experimenter express happiness as she looked inside a container that either contained a toy (reliable looker condition) or was empty (unreliable looker condition). Then, infants had to follow the same experimenter's gaze to a target object located either behind or in front of a barrier. Infants in the reliable looker condition followed the experimenter's gaze behind the barrier more often than infants in the unreliable looker condition, whereas both groups followed the experimenter's gaze to the target object located in front of the barrier equally often. In the second experiment, infants did not generalize their knowledge about the unreliability of a looker to a second ‘naïve’ looker. These findings suggest that 14-month-old infants adapt their gaze following as a function of their past experience with the looker.

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