In the habituation studies we use short video presentations and measure the looking times of infants. In these studies we can investigate questions that would be otherwise difficult to address, namely questions about the very early development. In experiments with preverbal infants we are seeking answers to questions such as what makes babies interpret actions as goal-directed? At what age can we find the first signs of this naive psychological reasoning, and under what conditions does it appear?
One important aspect is the rational action of agents. Based on the principle of rational action infants identify actions as goal-directed. They detect rational agents based on certain cues, such as the equifinality of the agent's spatial behaviour (reaching the same point on several different routes). Our studies have shown that infants at a very young age are able to identify the goals of an agent (that is, the preferred outcome of an action). Moreover, we were able to show that by the end of the first year of life, infants also use this principle of rational action to make productive inferences about unseen aspects of the context of goal-directed actions.
Publications in the Theme
Gergely, G., Nádasdy, Z., Csibra, G., & Bíró, S. (1995). Taking the intentional stance at 12 months of age. Cognition, Vol. 56, No. 2., 165-193.
Csibra G., Gergely, G., Biró, S., & Koós, O., & Brockbank, M. (1999). Goal-attribution without agency cues: The perception of 'pure reason' in infancy. Cognition, 72, 237-267.
Csibra, G., Bíró, S., Koós, O., & Gergely, G. (2003). One-year-old infants use teleological representations of actions productively. Cognitive Science, vol. 27(1), 111-133.