Goal attribution to schematic animals: do 6-month-olds perceive biological motion as animate?
Article first published online: 28 MAY 2009
© 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume 13, Issue 1, pages 1–10, January 2010
How to Cite
Schlottmann, A. and Ray, E. (2010), Goal attribution to schematic animals: do 6-month-olds perceive biological motion as animate?. Developmental Science, 13: 1–10. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2009.00854.x
- Issue published online: 9 DEC 2009
- Article first published online: 28 MAY 2009
- Received: 9 April 2008 Accepted: 14 October 2008
Infants are sensitive to biological motion, but do they recognize it as animate? As a first step towards answering this question, two experiments investigated whether 6-month-olds selectively attribute goals to shapes moving like animals. We habituated infants to a square moving towards one of two targets. When target locations were switched, infants reacted more to movement towards a new goal than a new location – but only if the square moved non-rigidly and rhythmically, in a schematic version of bio-mechanical movement older observers describe as animal-like (Michotte, 1963). Goal attribution was specific to schematic animal motion: It did not occur if the square moved rigidly with the same rhythm as the animate stimulus, or if the square had the same amount of non-rigid deformation, but in an inanimate configuration. The data would seem to show that perception of schematic animal motion is linked to a system for psychological reasoning from infancy. This in turn suggests that 6-month-olds may already interpret biological motion as animate.