15-month-old infants detect violations in pretend scenarios

Kristine H. Onishi, Renée Baillargeon, Alan M. Leslie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Are 15-month-old infants able to detect a violation in the consistency of an event sequence that involves pretense? In Experiment 1, infants detected a violation when an actor pretended to pour liquid into one cup and then pretended to drink from another cup. In Experiment 2, infants no longer detected a violation when the cups were replaced with objects not typically used in the context of drinking actions, either shoes or tubes. Experiment 3 showed that infants' difficulty in Experiment 2 was not due to the use of atypical objects per se, but arose from the novelty of seeing an actor appearing to drink from these objects. After receiving a single familiarization trial in which they observed the actor pretend to drink from either a shoe or a tube, infants now detected a violation when the actor pretended to pour into and to drink from different shoes or tubes. Thus, at an age (or just before the age) when infants are beginning to engage in pretend play, they are able to show comprehension of at least one aspect of pretense in a violation-of-expectation task: specifically, they are able to detect violations in the consistency of pretend action sequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-128
Number of pages23
JournalActa Psychologica
Volume124
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

Keywords

  • Cognitive development
  • Infancy
  • Pretense comprehension
  • Theory of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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