Complex social situations happening around a 13-month-old baby can be assessed by the baby and react accordingly, says a new study.
Study authors You-jung Choi and Yuyan Luo of the University of Missouri said that their findings showed that 13-month-old's could make sense of social situations using their understanding about others' minds and social evaluation skills. The research is innovative in that we show that infants are able to construe social situations from different participants' perspectives.
Graduate student You-jung Choi and senior co-author Yuyan Luo were interested in how information, or lack thereof, could affect our social interactions with others.
The researchers brought 48 infants, who were around 1 year old, into the lab for their experiment. The infant sat on his or her parent's lap, facing a little stage where hand puppets would appear. Two puppets (A and B) appeared on stage and clapped their hands or hopped around together, allowing the infants to familiarize themselves with the characters and learn that A and B were friendly with each other.
Then, the infants were presented with a particular social scenario. In one, the infants saw a third puppet, C, approach and get deliberately knocked down by B, as A looked on from the side. In another scenario, B knocked down C, but A wasn't present. And in a third scenario, C was accidentally knocked down as A looked on.
When the researchers analyzed the looking time data, they found that the infants responded to outcomes in the three scenarios differently, in accordance with the social implications of each scenario.
According to Choi and Luo, the results suggest that young children are developing skills than enable them to assess social situations and make relevant social judgments earlier than many would assume.
The research is published in Psychological Science.