Just do it? Investigating the gap between prediction and action in toddlers’ causal inferences

TitleJust do it? Investigating the gap between prediction and action in toddlers’ causal inferences
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsBonawitz, E. Baraff, Ferranti D., Saxe R., Gopnik A., Meltzoff A. N., Woodward J., & Schulz L. E.
JournalCognition
Volume115
Issue1
Pagination104 - 117
Date Published04/2010
ISSN00100277
Abstract

Adults’ causal representations integrate information about predictive relations and the possibility of effective intervention; if one event reliably predicts another, adults can represent the possibility that acting to bring about the first event might generate the second. Here we show that although toddlers (mean age: 24 months) readily learn predictive relationships between physically connected events, they do not spontaneously initiate one event to try to generate the second (although older children, mean age: 47 months, do; Experiments 1 and 2). Toddlers succeed only when the events are initiated by a dispositional agent (Experiment 3), when the events involve direct contact between objects (Experiment 4), or when the events are described using causal language (Experiment 5). This suggests that causal language may help children extend their initial causal representations beyond agent-initiated and direct contact events.

URLhttp://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0010027709002947
DOI10.1016/j.cognition.2009.12.001
Short TitleCognition

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