Six-month-olds can comprehend adults' intentions

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Washington, Feb 10 (ANI): Kids as young as six months old know when we're "playing" them, a study by York University researchers reveals.

The study, by York's Centre for Infancy Studies, examined six-and nine-month-old babies' reactions to a game in which an experimenter was either unable or unwilling to share a toy. Babies detected and calmly accepted when an experimenter was unable to share for reasons beyond her control, but averted their gazes and became agitated when it was clear she simply wouldn't share.

"Babies can tell if you're teasing or being manipulative, and they let you know it," says study lead author Heidi Marsh, a PhD student who worked under the direction of psychology professor Maria Legerstee, head of the Centre for Infancy Studies in York's Faculty of Health.

"These results are exciting as it's the first demonstration that used infants' social behaviour to successfully show that at six months they comprehend the goals of our actions. Previously, there was only evidence based on visual habituation (observing the pattern of infants' gazes towards stimuli) which is prone to interpretative issues, and even those results were very mixed," Marsh says.

"A six-month-old as compared to a nine-month-old has different ways of expressing what they know," says Marsh.

"The innovative aspect of this research is that we used measures that are consistent with a six-month-old's everyday behaviour in order to understand what they comprehend. We recorded their social responses, such as sadness, gaze aversions, smiles and vocalizations, in addition to more physical responses such as reaching and banging," she says.

The study looked at 40 infants, evenly divided between genders.

The study, "Six-and Nine-Month-Old Infants Discriminate Between Goals Despite Similar Action Patterns," is co-authored by Legerstee, Jennifer Stavropoulos and Tom Nienhuis. It was published online in Infancy in January 2010. (ANI)

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