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Infants' generalization of motion and mental properties to animals and people

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Infants' generalization of motion and mental properties to animals and people

Frenkiel, Sarah (2002) Infants' generalization of motion and mental properties to animals and people. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

It has recently been proposed that infants have formed conceptual categories, such as animate and inanimate objects, by the end of the first year (Mandler, 1992). How such global domains are represented remains to be determined. It has been argued that infants distinguish between animates and inanimates on the basis of the motion and mental characteristics of members of these two categories (Mandler, 1992; Rakison & Poulin-Dubois, 2001). In the present study, the inductive generalization paradigm was used to examine 16- and 20-month-olds' knowledge of the motion and mental capabilities of animate beings. Twenty-four 16-month-old infants and twenty-four 20-month-old infants participated in the study. The main objective of the present study was twofold: (1) to determine if infants can generalize motion and mental properties across category members, and (2) to examine the breadth of the animate category in young infants. The task included four trials, each of which consisted of a baseline and a generalization phase. The experimenter modelled two motion properties (jumping over a wall, moving up a set of stairs) and two mental properties (looking in a mirror, answering a phone) using a monkey doll. Test exemplars were toy replicas of animals and people. As expected, 16- and 20-month-old infants performed more actions during the generalization than during the baseline phase. Sixteen month-old infants chose the animal and person equally often to imitate both motion and mental properties, suggesting that infants have developed a concept of animates by that age. In contrast, 20-month-old infants chose the person significantly more often than the animal to imitate the mental properties, suggesting that by 20 months of age, infants reserve mental properties preferably to people.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Frenkiel, Sarah
Pagination:viii, 71 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (M.A.)
Program:Psychology
Date:2002
Thesis Supervisor(s):Poulin-Dubois, Diane
ID Code:1892
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:23
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:23
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