Chapter

Infants’ Causal Learning

Andrew N. Meltzoff

in Causal Learning

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780195176803
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199958511 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176803.003.0003

Series: Oxford Series in Cognitive Development

Infants’ Causal Learning

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This chapter shows that the perception of others' actions and production of self-action are mapped onto commensurate representations starting from birth. This allows infants not only to learn interventions through their own manipulations but also to multiply greatly their learning opportunities by observing the manipulations of others and profiting from them. Infants imitate but do not blindly copy everything they see. First, they make creative errors. Second, they skip over the literal behavior they see and choose to duplicate inferred interventions: what the adult meant to do, not what the adult did do. Third, when causal relations are difficult, as in the rake case for younger infants, observation alone does not seem to guarantee success; older infants glean more from the modeling than do younger ones.

Keywords: infant imitation; causal learning; self-action; innate mapping; causal relations

Chapter.  8329 words. 

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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