Object Permanence in Five-and-a-Half-Month-Old Infants?

Authors


Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003. E-mail: bogartz@psych.umass.edu

Abstract

Event Set × Event Set designs were used to study the rotating screen paradigm introduced by Baillargeon, Spelke, and Wasserman (1985). In Experiment 1, 36 5 1/2-month-old infants were habituated to a screen rotating 180° with no block, a screen rotating 120° up to a block, or a screen rotating 180° up to and seemingly through a block. All infants were then tested on the same 3 events and also a screen rotating 120° with no block. The results indicate that infants are using novelty and familiarity preference to determine their looking times. To confirm this, in Experiment 2, 52 5 1/2-month-old infants were familiarized on either 3 or 7 trials to a screen rotating 180° with no block or a screen rotating 120° with no block. All infants were then tested on the same test events as in Experiment 1. Infants with fewer familiarization trials were more likely to prefer the familiar rotation event. The results of these 2 experiments indicate that infants did not use the possibility or impossibility of events but instead used familiarity or novelty relations between the habituation events and the test events to determine their looking times, and suggest that the Baillargeon et al. study should not be interpreted as indicating object permanence or solidity knowledge in young infants.

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