A Lion or a Shoe: 17-Month-Olds Observing VS. Acting on an Object in an Object Individuation Task
Jellison, Savanna Elizabeth Jean Westrom
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Object individuation, the ability to distinguish an object that is currently perceived from one that was previously perceived, is an important cognitive ability used in everyday life. In the current study, we assessed the influence of self-action on infants’ ability to individuate objects. Using a manual search task, we tested eighteen 17- to 18-month-old infants’ ability to individuate objects. Infants either observed as an experimenter hid an object in a covered bucket or they hid the object themselves. The rationale was that if infants perceived the retrieved object as a distinct object from the one hidden, they would continue searching in the bucket for the yet-to-be-retrieved object. These results indicate that infants successfully individuated only when they were able to hide the object themselves. This outcome provides evidence that, similar to other types of object processing, object individuation is enhanced when infants are given the ability to act on objects.