Young infants' expectations about self-propelled objects

Renée Baillargeon, Di Wu, Sylvia Yuan, Jie Li and Yuyan Luo

in The Origins of Object Knowledge

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780199216895
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191696039 | DOI:
Young infants' expectations about self-propelled objects

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Developmental Psychology


Show Summary Details


Young infants possess expectations about physical events. These findings support the notion that infants are born with an abstract, unconscious, physical-reasoning system. This chapter has two sections — a summary of results from experiments that compared the response of infants to various physical events involving an inert or a self-propelled object; and a discussion on the considered links between the concept of self-propelled objects explored in this chapter and other key concepts. This chapter suggests three conclusions: infants distinguish between inert and self-propelled objects and endow self-propelled objects with an internal source of energy; infants do not view an object as self-propelled unless it provides unambiguous evidence that it can act intentionally and thus has mental states; and the infants' concepts of self-propelled object and agent function as abstract ‘kinds of explanations’ that are devoid of all mechanistic details but still make possible rich inferences about objects' actions in new contexts.

Keywords: young infants; expectations; inert objects; self-propelled objects; kinds of explanations

Chapter.  25696 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.