10-month-old babies can understand another person's thought process, says recent research.
The study conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri provides new insights on how humans acquire knowledge and how communication develops.
"Understanding other people is a key factor in successful communication, and humans start to understand this at a very young age," Yuyan Luo, associate professor of developmental psychology in the MU College of Arts and Science, said.
"Our study indicates that infants, even before they can verbally communicate, can understand the thought processes of other people - even if the thoughts diverge from what the infants know as truth, a term psychologists call false belief," she said.
The researchers monitored infants during different trials of a common psychological test in which an actor indicated preference for certain objects and timed the infant's gaze, which is an indication of infant knowledge.
The infants watched longer when the actor's preferences changed, which led the researchers to believe that infants understood how the actor interacted with the objects.
"When the actor did not witness the removal or addition of the preferred object, the infants seemed to use that information to interpret the person's actions," Luo said.
"The infants appear to recognize that the actor's behavior comes from what the actor could see or could not see and hence what the actor thinks, and this finding is consistent with similar false belief studies that involve older children," she added.
The study has been published in the journal Cognition.